British warned plane tickets will get more expensive in late summer

The price of a plane ticket might jump by close to 10% this summer as European travelers try to get away after two years of heavy travel restrictions. The boss of Wizz Air said tickets are already more expensive now than they were in the year before the pandemic struck.

Jozsef Varadi expects this to increase even further, to “upper single digits” in the company’s second quarter, which runs between July and September.

“Our bookings are showing strong performance in the first fiscal quarter, with average fares trending higher at low single digits versus (the) same period in F20 (financial year ending March 2020),” he said.

“For fiscal quarter two, we expect fares in the upper single digits ahead of the equivalent period F20.”

This could see fares rise by close to 10%, although the company did not reveal any more detailed assessment of where they are likely to go. Wizz Air also warned shareholders that recent disruption at airports will probably lead to the airline making an operating loss in the first quarter of its financial year.

“Shortages of staff in air traffic control, security and other parts of the supply chain are impacting airlines, our employees and our customers directly,” Mr Varadi said.

He added: “We see strong consumer demand for summer, but expect an operating loss for the first quarter of F23. The airline industry remains exposed to externalities such as air traffic control disruption and continuing operational issues within the airports sector, adding to a volatile macro environment.

“As a result, at this point, we are not providing further financial guidance for the year.”

The number of passengers Wizz carried more than doubled from 10.2 million to 27.1 million in the year to the end of March. Revenue rose 125% to 1.7 billion euros (£1.5 billion), while pre-tax loss rose from 567 million euros to 642 million (£482 million to £546 million).

UK holidaymakers have faced delays and cancellations amid chaos at airports, and there could be further disruption after two Italian unions called for a nationwide crew strike. Pilots and flight attendants from airlines including Ryanair, easyJet and Crewlink are set to strike for four hours from 10am until 2pm, according to Italian media.

Unions Italian Federation of Transport Workers (FILT) and Italian Union of Transport Workers (UILT) said the strike is over pay disputes, non-payment of sick days, summer leave and a “lack of water and meals for the crew”. UILT said that if an agreement is not reached, “this will be only the first of a series of protest actions that will make the summer ‘hot’”.

Easyjet has warned its customers that there may be some disruptions to its schedule. In a statement, the airline said: “We are aware of possible multiple strike actions planned in Italy on June 8 impacting air traffic services

“Like all airlines operating to and from Italy, we may see some disruption to our flying program on this date. We advise customers due to travel to, from or within Italy on June 8 to check the status of their flights on our Flight Tracker on our mobile app or website at www.easyjet.com/(Your flight number).

“Although this is outside of our control, we would like to reassure customers that we are doing all possible to minimize any disruption that may occur as a result of the strike action.”

This comes after days of chaos at airports across the country, with easyJet forced to cancel at least 35 flights on Tuesday, with Gatwick the worst affected airport. Hungarian carrier Wizz Air also scrapped at least seven flights to UK airports.

British Airways canceled 124 Heathrow flights, although the airline said affected passengers were given advance notice. There have also been reports of massive queues and severe delays for the last month, due to staff shortages and a huge surge in demand as more people travel post-coronavirus restrictions.

Meanwhile, hundreds of check-in and ground staff employed by British Airways at Heathrow began voting on strike action on Tuesday. Members of the Unite and GMB unions are being balloted in a dispute over pay which could cause chaos at the UK’s busiest airport during the summer holiday period.

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