After a year in the air, and some 100,000 passengers carried to and from Israel, low-cost airline Wizz Airline will be celebrating with a very grounded party, on a bus roving around Tel Aviv on Friday.
The carrier, one of a flock of budget airlines connecting Ben Gurion International Airport to Europe, is no stranger to high-flying, attention-getting stunts: A year ago the Hungarian company threw a fashion show aboard a flight to Budapest to fete its entrance to the Israeli market.
Starting at the corner of Bograshov and King George Streets at 11 a.m., the party bus will blast music from several of its Eastern European locations. Passersby are encouraged to hop aboard, where they will be treated to cocktails and snacks from Lithuania, Poland and Russia — all countries Wizz flies to and from — as well as the opportunity to join a raffle for a free flight voucher and other goodies.
Wizz, which was founded in 2003, entered the Israeli market in December 2012 as a result of the Open Skies Agreement and now flies to seven destinations from Tel Aviv. Its execs say that in their first year they have already carried 100,000 passengers to and from Israel, lured, they believe, by bare-bones fares where everything from a checked bag to an in-flight snack can be acquired for extra cash.
Tel Aviv is a hit among Romanian, Hungarian and Polish travelers, says Wizz deputy communications director Tamara Mshvenieradze, both because of its citizens and because of its sunshine. “It’s a secure point to travel all year round, where there will be beautiful weather and happy people,” she says. “And going the other way, we have some very strong historical connections — a lot of Israelis are traveling with us for heritage reasons.”
Wizz’s success on the Israeli market comes as Israelis embrace the idea of cut-rate flying. In addition to the British mega-discount carrier EasyJet, which currently flies to the UK, Italy, Rome and Switzerland, bargain-hunters can also book seats out of Israel on Latvia’s airBaltic, AirBerlin’s subsidiary carrier NIKI, and Istanbul carrier Pegasus Airlines. EasyJet competitor RyanAir is said to be eyeing flights to Tel Aviv, and even Israel’s national carrier El Al, known more for its stringent security than for low prices, last week announced a new reduced-fare brand, aptly called UP.