Citing "ongoing external disruptions", Wizz Air (W6, Budapest) expects to cut flights by a further 5% this summer to reduce the impact on its services amid staff shortages, strikes, and bottlenecks at major European airports.

"In total, for the peak summer period, we expect to reduce utilisation by a further 5% versus the plan outlined at the full year results to reduce the impact of ongoing external disruptions. We now expect summer ASK (available seat kilometre) growth to be around 35% versus F20," the airline said in a first quarter trading update.

The Hungarian budget carrier said it is adjusting its schedules "where we have seen a higher occurrence of issues (e.g. slot allocation issues, turn-around timings)….to be able to avoid cancellations and secure a more punctual operation for our customers".

The airline is following in the footsteps of several other carriers, which have been forced to cut capacity as the ongoing staffing crisis at airports hampers them from taking advantage of a resurge in travel demand following COVID-19. Among those affected are KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and KLM cityhopper, Transavia Airlines, TUI fly (Netherlands), Air Malta, Corendon Airlines at Amsterdam Schiphol; British Airways at London Heathrow; and carriers in the Lufthansa Group, including Lufthansa, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, and Swiss, amongst others.

Despite the impact of the disruptions, Wizz Air said it expects an operating profit in the second quarter of the year as revenue and pricing momentum continue to improve.

"We expect continued RASK (revenue per available seat kilometre) improvement on the back of higher fares and improving load factors, resulting in a high-single-digit RASK improvement for the quarter versus F20," it said. The carrier reported load factors of above 90% since July, strong fares with industry capacity reducing and Summer consumer demand remaining strong.