How Did Wizz Air Become Central and Eastern Europe's Top Airline?

Milen Petrov

Student thesis: Master thesis


Largely anonymous since its first flight in 2004, Wizz Air is now becoming one of the major companies in the European commercial aviation market. The rise of the Hungarian budget airline has primarily happened outside the immediate spotlight until 2015, when the company appeared onto the stage by going public on the London stock exchange and placing an order of over 100 new Airbus aircraft. Wizz Air is now Central and Eastern Europe’s largest airline in terms of number of passengers and one of the few European airlines who are putting up remarkable results year after year. The success of Wizz Air’s story is evident, the road to achieving it however is not. This leads to the aim of this paper; namely identifying; how did Wizz Air become Central and Eastern Europe's top airline?
This question has been answered by gathering data from publicly available documents covering aspects such as the status of various operating costs, company characteristics, strategy choices, industry developments, greater contextual changes etc. and putting them through a number of theories and frameworks. The theoretical background has been chosen in order to include both internal firm factors as well as external factors present in the industry as well as the greater regional environment. While other companies in the airline industry, primarily other carriers from the eastern half of the continent as well as other budget airlines, have been included and discussed briefly, this has been done primarily as a benchmarking exercise to shed further light on Wizz Air. This case-study has thus discerned a few key factors that proved to be of primary importance for Wizz Air’s success.
The macro environment in Europe at the time of Wizz Air’s development and expansion throughout the continent was favourable in terms of regulatory, political and social changes. In various respects the new conditions removed obstacles and promoted the customer segment of the industry. The economic progression of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe was another factor that spurred air travel and streamlined demand particularly to Wizz Air. The final factor was Wizz Air’s apt business strategy of focusing on ultra-low cost tickets and naming the entire CEE region as their home market and backing it up with invaluable resources and a degree of flexibility.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages75
SupervisorsMichael J. Mol