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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Wizz Air cuts passenger forecasts on virus restrictions hit

(Corrects to say capacity in the three months ending in September, not the second quarter of 2020, in the first paragraph)

Sept 1 (Reuters) - Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air expects to fly at roughly 60% of capacity in the three months to the end of September, down from earlier projected levels as renewed travel restrictions in Europe and Hungary hit passenger numbers.

The airline’s shares fell almost 6% lower in morning trade.

Wizz said that if restrictions across the network continue, rates were likely to remain at around 60% in the third quarter, down from the 80% it had earlier expected.

“Further capacity reductions remain a possibility and as a result, Wizz Air may park parts of its fleet throughout the winter season to protect its cash balance,” the company said.

The airline, which has expanded from eastern into western Europe in recent years and been one of the fastest to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, in August was flying at 80% of last year’s capacity.

It had said last month that 80% of capacity was as high as it could go under current circumstances, and that capacity might fall again.

The carrier said on Tuesday it was still confident it would emerge as a “structural winner” from the crisis, adding that its ultra-low cost business model is a significant competitive advantage in the current uncertain environment for airlines.

Hungary said last week it would close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday to curb a rise in coronavirus cases, but later decided to let tourists from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia enter the country with a fresh negative coronavirus test. (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Patrick Graham)

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