Wizz Air (W6, Budapest) has announced the closure of its bases at Cardiff (UK), Bacau (Romania), and Bari (Italy), citing as reason a challenging macro-economic environment.

The Hungarian budget carrier will close its base at Bacãu Airport in Romania on January 10, followed by its UK subsidiary Wizz Air UK (W9, London Luton) ceasing all operations at Cardiff permanently on January 25, while Bari will be closed on February 16.

Wizz Air UK already reduced its schedule from Cardiff over the winter by cutting nine routes and will now suspend its two remaining winter routes to Milan Malpensa (Italy) and Bucharest Henri Coanda (Romania). Last year, Wizz Air UK said it planned to increase its operations from Cardiff again in the spring and - as part of a long-term commitment to the airport – had already loaded its summer 2023 schedule. However, Wizz Air UK Managing Director Marion Geoffroy said: “The challenging macro-economic environment and high operational costs including fuel mean that unfortunately, we are unable to continue operating from Cardiff Airport."

The airline based one A321-200neo in the Welsh capital since opening a base there in December 2020. All Cardiff-based employees will now be offered redeployment opportunities at the budget carrier's other UK bases. The airline will continue to operate at eight UK airports and "remains committed to long-term growth in the UK".

Cardiff Airport expressed "deep disappointment" at the airline's decision. "It is regrettable that Wizz Air has cited the economic climate as its reasons for withdrawing its operations out of Cardiff. There have been positive booking trends and very strong passenger demand to travel from Cardiff in 2022, and current booking trends for 2023 remain similar. We have been working closely with the airline since 2020, and their latest indications to us last week were that bookings for this summer were ahead of this time last year, so we see their decision as surprising," the airport said in a statement.

In Romania, Wizz Air is closing its base at Bacau to reallocate capacity to other routes with higher demand, but the budget carrier will continue to fly from Bacau to London Luton and Milan Malpensa. Again, Wizz Air employees will be offered relocation to other bases in the network.

In Italy, the closure of the base in Bari in February will see the aircraft stationed there transferred to Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa, but Bari will continue to be served from Budapest, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi and Timisoara (all in Romania), Tirana (Albania), and Wroclaw and Warsaw Chopin( Poland). The base in Bari was opened in March 2021. The airline said cancelling some flights from Bari and re-allocating the aircraft would facilitate growing its capacity in Italy by 26 flights per week to 2,402 flights weekly to offer its largest-ever schedule in the country this upcoming summer. The 74 crew members based in Bari would be provided with new opportunities," the airline said in a statement.

Bari's Aeroporti di Puglia president, Antonio Maria Vasile, acknowledged WizzAir's decision to reorganise its Italian network in the context of a free and competitive market. "Ten new routes have already been planned, which will be operated by other carriers, some of which, such as Norwegian and Aer Lingus, present for the first time in Puglia, to which will be added the destinations served by historical carriers already present at our airport, such as Volotea, Ryanair, and Brussels Airlines," he was quoted by the Giornale di Puglia.