AN INTERNATIONAL airline is expanding and setting up a new base at Gatwick Airport.

It will be the third base for Wizz Air UK, which is now offering to fly passengers to destinations in Greece, Italy, Spain and Malta from October 22 following the introduction of four new routes.

The low-cost airline, the fourth largest airline group operating in the UK, also has bases at Luton Airport and Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with the latter only being announced last Thursday.

A spokesman for the company said: “Wizz Air started flying from Gatwick in 2016 and, since then, has carried almost one million passengers.

The Argus:

“With the creation of a new base at Gatwick, Wizz Air will offer passengers even more affordable travel opportunities with 450,000 seats per annum on sale on its new routes to popular holiday destinations including Athens, Naples, Lanzarote and Malta for the remainder of the year.”

One Airbus A321 aircraft will be allocated to the airline’s Gatwick hub.

Wizz Air aimed to entice customers with an offer of 50 per cent off all Gatwick routes for 72 hours. It started at 9am on Tuesday, with the company listing a £21.99 flight to Malta and a £26.99 journey to Lanzarote among the deals on offer.

The Argus:

The expansion comes at a turbulent time for the aviation industry, and Gatwick in particular, as the coronavirus crisis and consequent lockdown put pay to the summer holiday plans of people across the world.

Virgin Atlantic, a permanent fixture at Gatwick since its first flight from there in 1984, announced in May that it would be stopping all flights to and from the airport as well as cutting 3,150 jobs across the company.

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This comes just four years after Virgin Atlantic opened a new head office in nearby Crawley.

Meanwhile fellow airlines such as British Airways and easyJet, which have a large number of aircraft based at Gatwick, have also announced plans to cut jobs on a devastating scale during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Argus:

The Gatwick Diamond Initiative estimated it could take a decade for the area to recover from the financial impacts of Covid-19.

Wizz Air UK managing director Owain Jones said the expansion “reinforces Wizz Air UK’s position as a British airline that is growing, creating new jobs, bringing much-needed connectivity to the UK and so helping the economy get back in the air”.

He said: “We stand ready to continue to support the UK’s recovery with further growth at key airports, if slot-blocking by other airlines is stopped, allowing Wizz to deliver on our promise of providing affordable travel for all.

The Argus:

"Now more customers than ever before can take advantage of Wizz Air’s ultra-low fares to travel to their favourite sunny holiday spot on-board our young and green fleet of Airbus aircraft, with our new Gatwick flights starting just in time for the October half-term.”

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “This is encouraging news for Gatwick, particularly at a time when the industry has been so negatively impacted by Covid-19.

“Having a new aircraft based at Gatwick underpins the resilience of our business for the long-term and ensures we continue to offer our passengers great choice.”