Iceland’s WOW air to take off again, this time, from the US
The defunct Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW air is reportedly set to resume flight operations as soon as October 2019. The transatlantic airline has been taken over by a U.S. aviation firm, ending months of speculation about plans for the revival of the carrier.
After it abruptly ceased operations in March 2019, Iceland’s WOW air is to be rebuilt by USAerospace Associates, a U.S. holding company specializing in the aviation sector. The company, together with local investors, have reportedly acquired WOW air’s assets and plan to relaunch the transatlantic budget carrier under the WOW air brand in October 2019.
The revived carrier will start out by flying between Washington DC and Reykjavik, Iceland, operating just two aircraft, with plans to increase this number to four in summer 2020 and potentially 10 to 12 planes long-term.
Future destinations are still being discussed but should generally be similar to the former WOW’s, as the new owners of the airline strive to retain the same business model, focusing on low-cost transatlantic operations.
The news was revealed by Michelle Ballarin, chair of USAerospace Associates, at a press conference in Reykjavik, on September 6, 2019, as reported by local newspaper Visir. According to Ballarin, who will be the chair of the resurrected airline, $85 million investment has been secured to relaunch the budget carrier.
The new WOW air will operate under a U.S. air operator’s certificate (AOC) and will be based in Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) with Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) as its main operations center in Europe.
As for the ‘wow’ factor, although the airline is to carry the same name and logo as the former WOW air, retaining its signature purple color, it seems that Ballarin has quite a vision for the revived carrier, including an in-flight menu with meals created by a Michelin-starred chef, and a lounge for WOW air passengers at Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal at Keflavik airport.
Besides commercial passenger flights, cargo flights are also planned for the revived WOW air, including seafood transport from Iceland to the U.S., Frettabladid reports.
Ballarin’s interest in WOW air came to the attention of the Icelandic media a couple of months ago when USAerospace Associates’ first attempt to purchase assets within WOW air’s bankruptcy estate fell through due to delayed payments.
Since then, Ballarin’s various business ventures, as well as the company’s capability to restore and run the defunct airline, have all been questioned.
Longing for WOW air
There is great interest within Iceland to have WOW air return to the skies. The airline’s sudden collapse, announced in March 2019, seemed to signal the end of cheap flights to the country and the possible decrease in tourism, a major industry sector in Iceland.
In July 2019, together with rumors of USAerospace Associates’ interest in WOW air’s revival, two former executives of the airline and an Irish investment fund related to the Ryanair family also emerged with a separate plan for the new WOW air, local news media Fréttablaðið and Iceland Review reported at the time.
The new budget airline was to be established under the working name WAB, or “We Are Back”, and begin operations in the fall of 2019. Last reported, the two ex-WOW air managers behind this revival effort, Arnar Már Magnússon and Sveinn Ingi Steinþórsson, were holding talks with domestic banks for a possible investment and had applied for an AOC in Iceland.
End of operations
Established in 2011 by now former CEO Skúli Mogensen, WOW air expanded quickly, pioneering in low-cost air travel between Europe and North America. However, the airline’s impressive growth was followed by deepening financial losses in recent years.
In August 2018, a leaked presentation revealed the airline was seeking investors, as it suffered a $13.5 million loss in 2017 and was bracing for another $28 million downfall in 2018, The Reykjavik Grapevine reported at the time.
WOW air initiated a restructuring process at the end of 2018. The carrier reduced fleet, route numbers, and unfortunately, fired hundreds of its employees. Talks also began with the country’s flag carrier and WOW air’s rival Icelandair.
The Icelandair Group was meant to purchase WOW air and incorporate its aircraft and routes into its own network, but pulled the plug, having already signed a purchase agreement of all of Wow Air’ shares, just three weeks before in November 2018.
Following the fiasco, WOW air’s management began discussions with Indigo Partners, a U.S. equity firm which owns several low-cost carriers, including Frontier Airlines and JetSmart, but those talks eventually broke down as well. WOW Air turned to Iceland for a last-ditch attempt to secure a rescue package and stay afloat. In the same way that Icelandair pulled out at the end of November 2018, it did so this March.
On March 26, 2019, suspicions of multiple WOW air’s aircraft being grounded surfaced. Two days later, the Icelandic carrier announced it is ceasing operations. To this day, the airline’s official website still displays the travel alert on how stranded passengers could get a refund if they were affected by the sudden bankruptcy.
On this day: Concorde first landing in New York
After a lot of resistance from the local authorities and communities, Concorde was finally able to set its wheels on the...
South Korea’s top court suspends Asiana route over crash landing
A five years-long court battle over the 2013 deadly crash landing of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco has fin...
Cathay Pacific lowers profit forecast; passenger traffic shrinks
Cathay Pacific announced its September 2019 traffic results. As the protests in Hong Kong continue, the airline's re...
Project Sunrise: Qantas tests world’s longest non-stop flight
The Australian company Qantas is about to run its first test of an ultra-long-haul flight between New York and Sydney, a...
Spicejet Boeing 737 intercepted by Pakistani F-16 fighter jets
A SpiceJet Boeing 737 carrying out flight SG21 from New Delhi (DEL) to Kabul (KBL) was intercepted by Pakistan Air Force...
France and Germany reach export agreement of future fighter jet
France and Germany signed an arms export agreement regarding weapons developed conjointly, a necessary step for the deve...
Final verdict on Southwest Flight 1380 expected in November
It was a gruesome accident that shocked the nation. One year and half later since the fatal Southwest Airlines flight 13...
Norwegian Air and JetBlue announce tentative partnership
Two low-cost carriers have penned a tentative deal to start a partnership in 2020. However, just a year after the partne...
Qatar Airways weighs LATAM stake raise after Delta’s investment
Following an initial shock of the Delta Air Lines stake purchase in LATAM, one conflicting party has shed some light on...
Flybe becomes Virgin Connect; a move crucial for Virgin Atlantic
Starting from 2020, Flybe will now officially be known as Virgin Connect. The rebranding, which was hinted since the Con...
Bombardier Global 5500 and 6500 receive EASA certification
Bombardier announced that its two latest entries in the Global family, the Global 5500 and Global 6500 business jets, ha...
MAAS Aviation, FL Technics form partnership
FL Technics, aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services provider, and MAAS Aviation, aircraft painting services...