Wizz Air Holdings has today raised the bottom end of its annual profit forecast, as the budget airline benefits from a strong first-half while struggling rivals cut expansion plans. 

Wizz, which mainly flies to central and eastern Europe, said net profit for the financial year 2020 would be between €335-350m. 

It had an earlier range of €320-350m.

The airline said its net profit for the six months ended September 30 rose 87.1% to €371.5m. 

"The more recent supporting market conditions mean we are seeing our business tracking towards the top end of our current net profit guidance range, which gives us confidence to tighten the range," chief executive József Váradi said in a statement. 

Wizz Air reported an 17.9% increase in first-half passenger numbers to 22.1 million, higher load factors, with excluding-fuel unit costs down 3%. 

Fuel unit costs, however, increased 5.3% year-on-year.  

Wizz competes with Lufthansa's Eurowings brand at central European airports such as Vienna.

It is performing well in a strained industry that is being plagued by weaker demand, rising fuel costs, competition, strikes, bankruptcies and the grounding of Boeing's MAX 737 fleet.

Aer Lingus and British Airways parent IAG has warned that its full-year profit will be hit by a pilots' strike at BA, while Lufthansa is ready to go into arbitration to resolve a long-running staff dispute.

Ryanair has also said it expects further delays to its MAX 737 deliveries. 

In July, Varadi said that Wizz, whose fleet is powered by Airbus AIR.PA, was increasing its capacity plans.