A couple of weeks ago I suggested that Ryanair’s campaign against Wizzair was likely to misfire.
It was one thing to establish several new routes from Budapest as soon as the flag carrier, Malev closed but to start a vicious war with the country’s only other airline at the same time was asking for trouble.
They attacked Wizzair on two fronts. Firstly, they suggested that the company’s finances were in bad shape and, secondly, they complained to Brussels that the company does not qualify for European traffic rights since its ownership is mysterious and involves a number of holding companies.
Hungarians are fiercely nationalistic at the best of times, and are going through a particularly acute stage of this at the moment. Putting the boot into their only other airline within days of the demise of their flag-carrier was certain to provoke a reaction.
Ryanair has now been forced to cancel a number of flights from Budapest because the authorities suddenly insisted that all Ryanair crew transiting the airport have to leave the aircraft and go through security and passport control. It all sounds rather trumped-up but the excuse was confusion about Ryanair’s Budapest crew being paid in Ireland and being subject to Irish, rather than Hungarian rules.
The way for Ryanair to establish themselves in Hungary is through offering competitive fares. Unfortunately, despite the headline fares, Ryanair are nowhere near as cheap as they pretend. Trying to compete with Wizzair by using dirty tricks might have seemed a good idea but it was doomed to failure.