It is not unusual for Ryanair to knock competitors so the recent attacks on Wizzair are hardly a surprise but I wonder if there is some big plan behind their current campaign or if it is just another shoot-from-the-hip escapade which might back-fire.
With the bankruptcy of Malev, both Wizzair and Ryanair have been announcing new routes from Budapest. Normally, budget airlines like to steer well clear of each other but, this time, Ryanair and Wizz are head-to-head against one another.
Wizzair has moved fastest, as is only to be expected. It has an established base in Budapest and so increasing services is not a big issue.
Ryanair has launched a flurry of publicity attacking Wizzair on two fronts. Firstly, they are publicising figures which appear to show the company is losing money. Secondly, they have lodged a complaint with the EU about the ultimate ownership of Wizz, claiming it does not qualify as an EU carrier.
This could do Ryanair more harm than good in the Hungarian market. The Hungarians are fiercely patriotic and are not pleased at the demise of their flag-carrier. Wizz is, officially, a Hungarian airline and certainly employs many Hungarian staff. Will the Hungarian public be impressed by a foreign company trying to bad-mouth its last remaining airline and a major local employer?
Wizz’s ownership and its profit or loss are definitely complicated. There are numerous holding companies in Malta and Switzerland and mysterious shareholders. The company has never really come clean about who owns it and divulges the bare minimum of information on its financial performance. With so many intermediate holding companies, it is quite possible that the company is actually highly profitable and money is merely being tucked away somewhere. Or maybe the same mechanism is being used to disguise much bigger losses. Who knows?
Well, Ryanair might just know a little bit more than they are letting on.
Rumour has it that one of Ryanair’s larger shareholders is (or, more likely, was) a shareholder in Wizz.
The current campaign against Wizz is either more of the usual Ryanair publicity-seeking nonsense or an altogether more Machiavellian game. Whichever way, it could still rebound on them rather badly.