European low-cost-carrier Wizz Air is to explore the potential for hydrogen-powered aircraft operations under a partnership with Airbus.

Wizz Air said in a statement the deal would lead the airline to gain a “much deeper understanding of how operating a zero-emission hydrogen aircraft could positively impact the airline’s future business model”.

The objective of the MoU signed with the European aircraft manufacturer, which is pursuing its own ZEROe initiative in a bid to develop the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035, is to identify operational and infrastructure opportunities and challenges of hydrogen aircraft.

Impact on fleet and operations

Both parties will collaborate to explore the global hydrogen ecosystem from the perspectives of society, regulation, energy pricing and hydrogen infrastructure.

The partnership will also explore the impact of hydrogen aircraft on Wizz Air’s fleet, operations and infrastructure, including its network, scheduling, ground bases and airports, by considering specific aircraft characteristics, including range and refuelling time.

Young and green

Johan Eidhagen, Chief People and Environmental, Social, and Governance Officer at Wizz Air, said: “At Wizz Air, we remain ambitious with our growth strategy to deliver on our commitment to make travel affordable for all, while delivering a great customer experience on-board one of the youngest and greenest fleets in Europe.

“We believe that growth and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, with leading-edge new technology paving the way to more sustainable air travel. This momentous agreement with Airbus will advance sustainable aviation across the globe through development of ultra-efficient operations and business models of the future. We are absolutely thrilled and look forward to beginning our co-operation.”

Zero-emission aircraft by 2035

Glenn Llewellyn, Vice President Zero Emission Aircraft at Airbus, said: “Working with our customers is paramount to developing a climate-neutral, zero-emission aircraft by 2035. We are very pleased to have Wizz Air on board to collaborate on the ongoing research and development into the requirements for hydrogen aircraft operations within a hydrogen powered aviation ecosystem.

“Understanding airline fleet and network performance enables us to better define the architectural characteristics for a future ZEROe aircraft as well as the impact on airports, ground support and route network.”

411 aircraft backlog

In November 2021, Wizz Air signed an agreement with Airbus for the purchase of a further 102 A321 aircraft, comprising 75 A321neo and 27 Airbus A321XLR aircraft.

With the new order, Wizz Air’s delivery backlog comprises a firm order for 34 A320neo, 240 A321neo and 47 A321XLR aircraft, plus the additional order for 15 A321neo and purchase rights for 75 A321neo. This represents a total of 411 aircraft.

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