Wizz Air has managed to defy some of the gloom surrounding the European aviation market with a record annual profit and an expectation of continued growth into 2020.

The carrier, which has one of the lowest cost bases in the European market, believes it will be one of the winners in a difficult period for the airline industry. The price of jet fuel is steadily rising, and there are other challenges on the horizon, particularly the potential for air traffic control strikes across the key summer period.

Ryanair recently saw its annual pretax profit slump 41 percent, although it still made a healthy $1.1 billion (€948 million), and EasyJet reported an increased seasonal loss.

“We remain very optimistic for the current financial year. Higher fuel prices are supporting a stronger fare environment, and we expect these macro conditions to provide Wizz Air with market share opportunities as weaker carriers withdraw unprofitable capacity,” CEO József Váradi said.

The airline made a record net profit of $325.2 million (€291.6 million), up 6 percent on 2018, with revenue increasing 19.6 percent to $2.6 billion (€2.3 billion) for the year to the end of March. In 2020 it expects group net profit to be in a range of between $357 million (€320 million) and $390 million (€350 million).

Wizz Air claims to be the market leader in the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) region, where it has managed to challenge legacy carriers. Its main low-cost competition comes from Ryanair, which is strong in a number of countries.

Part of the reason for Wizz Air’s sustained success is the strength of this particular region, especially compared with Western Europe.

“Market conditions in the CEE continue to be seen as encouraging, with continued strong economic growth driving greater consumer spending power and a rising propensity to travel,” analysts at Barclays said.

Wizz Air has also worked on squeezing more cash out of passengers through a greater ancillary offering, including fast-track and lounge access sales during and post booking, as well as last minute sales for its Wizz Priority product up to 40 minutes before departure.

Photo Credit: Wizz Air aircraft. The carrier is more optimistic than most other European airlines. James / Flickr