Wizz Air is joining the rush of carriers adding capacity to the Canary Islands with two new routes from Gatwick.
New winter routes to Tenerife and Fuerteventura come as the budget carrier outlined future growth plans for the airport as rivals British Airways, easyJet and Norwegian Air trim services from London’s second airport.
Wizz Air UK managing director Owain Jones told the Mail on Sunday that the airline wants to capture up to 20 of around 110 take off and landing slots from competitors.
However, the suspension of the usual European ‘use it or lose it’ rule’ for airport slots has been suspended until March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jones said: “Norwegian hasn’t really been operating its base here and easyJet is operating a fraction of its fleet, so you have significant slot portfolios not being operated – and yet these slots remain tied up until the end of March.”
He highlighted an opportunity to overhaul the slot allocation process when oversight for regulation shifts from Brussels to the UK in January as part of Brexit.
Jones called for airport slots to be “national assets” that should be returned to a pool for redistribution if airlines are unable to operate them for 80% of each flying season.
“These slots are important for the economic recovery,” he added. “Connectivity by air is going to be extremely important as we come out the other side, both of Covid-19 and post-Brexit. Those assets need to be used for the national good and made available for airlines that can afford to operate.”
The opening of travel corridors without the need to quarantine on return to the UK has led to the addition of three flights a week to Tenerife from October 31 and two a week to Fuerteventura from November 1.
The UK arm of the Hungarian low-cost carrier started its first services from Gatwick last week to Athens, Naples, Malta and Lanzarote.
Wizz Air has also started operating twice-weekly flights from Luton to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and three a week to Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
The airline has also expanded its network from Doncaster Sheffield airport with new routes to Tenerife, Malaga, Larnaca and Lublin.
Further flights will be added from the Yorkshire airport before Christmas to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Alicante, Lisbon, Faro, Eindhoven, Kosice in Slovakia and Suceava in Romania.
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