Central and Eastern European LCC Wizz Air’s net profit for 2017-18 rose 22.1% to hit €275 million ($322.4 million), exceeding its guidance.

Wizz Air CEO József Váradi described 2017-18 as “another year of investment and driving efficiencies,” creating the foundations for Wizz to become Europe’s cost leader.

Over the 12 months ending March 31, Wizz opened 95 new routes and carried 29.6 million passengers—24.7% up on the prior year—pushing load factor up 1.3 points to 91.3%.

Revenue rose 24% to €1.9 billion. Ancillaries, which made up 42% of this total, were up 24.4% at €816 million.

CASK increased 1.3% to 3.19 cents, driven by fuel costs which were up 3.5% per ASK. Excluding fuel, CASK rose 0.4% to 2.26 cents, matched by a 0.4% RASK improvement at 3.76 cents.

This delivered a €659 million operating profit, marking a 22.4% improvement on 2017-18.

At year-end, Wizz operated a fleet of 93 aircraft, up 14 on its prior financial year. Over 35% of Wizz’s capacity is now operated by Airbus A321ceos. During the year, Wizz ordered 146 more A320neo-family aircraft, which will further-improve its cost efficiency.

“As the 2019 financial year begins, we remain very optimistic for the coming 12 months. 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,” Váradi said.

In 2018-19, Wizz is expecting a 20% increase in passenger numbers to 36 million.

“Although still at an early stage of the financial year, the group net profit is expected to be in a range of between €310 million and €340 million in the 2019 financial year,” Váradi said.

Wizz cautioned this guidance depends on the airline’s summer and second-half performance, over which it has limited visibility.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com