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Wizz Air offering new biz fare

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Wizz Air is kicking off the new year with a fresh focus on one group of travelers not normally catered for by no-frills airlines -- business travelers.

The budget Hungarian carrier is rolling out tickets specifically for corporate fliers as well as government officials, under its "Wizz Biz" program.

Tickets are more flexible than those issued regular passengers. They can be modified up to three hours before departure, free-of-charge. The tickets can also be purchased up to 40 minutes prior to flights.

Executive travelers must register their details on the airline's Web site.

Prices start from $130, excluding taxes and charges.

"Business people want to be flexible with airline tickets to adjust their travel to the needs of the business," says Jozsef Varadi, chief executive of Wizz Air.

"They are tired of being ripped off with the huge price premiums airlines put on them. (Now) you only pay a third or a quarter versus what you used to pay."

Less than 20 percent of Wizz Air passengers are currently business travelers, a figure it hopes to double with the new Wizz Bizz service.

The airline is also planning to launch some new routes starting March 27 to fill gaps in the market left when Air Polonia collapsed. These routes include flights from Warsaw to Paris, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Barcelona.

According to the Polish News Digest, Wizz Air plans to transport as many as two million passengers in 2005. In total flights to Katowice in southern Poland are expected to account for 50 percent of the overall traffic.

In December, Wizz and regional leader Bratislava-based SkyEurope helped Air Polonia's passengers reach their destinations after the airline stopped flying because to financial difficulties.

Central Europe is facing rising competition in the budget airline sector.

Excluding Wizz Air and Air Polonia there are five other operators flying in and out of Poland including the UK's easyJet, Slovakia's Sky Europe, GermanWings, Air Berlin and a new airline venture called "Niki" from former Austrian racing driver Niki Lauda.

The Polish national airline LOT also plans to launch a no-frills airline called Centralwings in February 2005, while Irish low-cost giant Ryanair has said that it intends to add Poland to its list of destinations at some stage.

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