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Budget airline Wizz Air said 2.6 million passengers booked flights during December despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus putting many off travelling over the festive period.
Bosses said this was a near-threefold increase on the 666,000 passengers it flew in the same month a year ago, creating a load factor on its planes of 75.4% compared with 56.1% in December 2020.
It meant the airline flew 21.7 million passengers in total in 2021 – up 30% on the 16.7 million flown in 2020 during a year of numerous travel restrictions.
The company also said it has bought 15 daily slots from Norwegian Air Shuttle at Gatwick, leading to four extra planes being based at the London airport.
New routes from Gatwick to 14 destinations including Faro, Palma, Tel Aviv and Mykonos will be added, along with routes from Milan, Rome, Vienna and Naples, among others, operated by Wizz Air Hungary.
The new flights will launch in March as the company hopes to see a substantial return of passengers when the latest wave of the pandemic subsides.
As part of environmental rules, Wizz Air also revealed its CO2 emissions levels, with 277,000 tonnes emitted during the month, although this was down per passenger from 85.6 grams per kilometre to 63.8 grams per kilometre.