The boss of Wizz Air believes the carrier can emerge from the Covid-19 crisis as a “more formidable business”.

Chief executive Jozsef Varadi issued a positive outlook despite uncertainty over the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

He was speaking as the Hungarian budget airline reported an underlying profit up 30% year-on-year to €345 million in the 12 months to March 31 as passenger carryings rose by 16%.

Total revenue in the period rose to €2.7 billion despite ticket revenue per passenger falling by 4.6% to €37.7.

Ancillary revenue was up by 31.5% to €1.2 billion or 45% of the total.

The airline also revealed that Stephen Jones, managing director of Wizz Air Hungary, will step down from June 30 due to personal reasons.

Varadi said: “We have taken various initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic to safeguard the company’s cost position and excellent balance sheet with €1.5 billion of cash, one of the strongest in the airline industry.

“We remain focused on best servicing our markets, while protecting the health of customers and employees.

“Our new health and safety protocol is designed to ensure that our customers and crew can fly safely during this unprecedented time for the global aviation industry.”

He added: “We are taking advantage of arising market opportunities and have recently announced the expansion of our network with new bases in Albania, Cyprus, Italy and Ukraine, with more exciting developments to come.

“We are confident that we can ramp up operations quickly, re-stimulate demand with our ultra-low fares and contribute to the vital recovery of travel and tourism in our markets.”

He added: “It is too early to provide a detailed outlook for full year 2021 due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

“However, Wizz Air’s market positioning and our ever-disciplined attitude to cost mean that we will emerge from this crisis as an even more formidable business and will continue to deliver significant shareholder value, environmental benefits and employment opportunities for years to come.”

Peter Knapp, chairman and chief creative officer at global branding consultancy Landor, said: “Wizz Air has shown agility and perseverance through these rocky times, underlined by the fact it was one of Europe’s first airlines to take to the skies again. As its competitors reduce their fleets,

“Wizz Air is travelling in the other direction and expanding, adding new flights between Britain and Spain and opening a new base in Italy.

“However, a key enabler of the low-cost model – and Whizz Air’s success – is a high load factor and fast turnaround.

“In this new era of heightened hygiene, health and safety, it will need to balance a very difficult financial equation of capacity versus safety. This will undoubtedly require some type of evolution from the current low-cost model and operation.

“How carriers manage passenger safety through the travel process will become the number one driver of trust and confidence. The airlines that meet new needs fastest will be the ones that bounce back – and Whizz Air could be leading the race.”