After 7 years, of which six were characterized by rapid growth and the last year by a rapid demise, Wow is no more.The airline that put Iceland on the map could not keep itself on the map.
(ad in happier days for the launch of WOW flights to Delhi. The route lasted just four weeks before being axed in January. It was meant to save the company!).
The demise is not a surprise. In November last year, Wow had to return four planes (two A320 and two A330) because the airline could not afford them. After months of excitement and buzz around their new A330-900 Neos, the airline never got to play with them.
The airline lost $US42million in the first nine months of 2018. Founder and CEO Skuli Mogensen in a very frank letter to bondholders at the end of November, 2018 told the world, the airline was in severe trouble. That is when I would have stopped buying tickets.
Icelandairhad been considering buying Wow just three weeks earlier, pulled out. Enter Indigo Partners, who have investments in Frontier Airlines, Volaris and Wizz Air. One day after Icelander walked away, Indigo announced a preliminary agreement to purchase Wow.
In December, 2018 WOW axed most of its US routes with Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, Dallas Fort Worth, New York JFK, Pittsburgh, Orlando and cut Los Angeles schedules. A fleet consolidation from 20 planes to 11 and a 50 percent staff reduction came in January, 2019.
In mid February, WOW offered $US45 fares from US to Iceland, supposedly to celebrate US Presidents’ Day. There is no way I would have bought one.
The Indigo deal failed to be finalised before the deadline on 29 March. Icelandair had another look but ran away from the option. It was at that point that we all knew WOW was finished. This week saw major flight cancellations through to Wednesday.
The company shut down today, Thursday 28th March, stranding between 2700 and 4000 people: “This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done but the reality is that we have run out of time and have unfortunately not been able to secure the funding of the company,” WOW CEO Skuli Mogensen wrote to the company’s employees. “I will never be able to forgive myself for not taking action sooner,” he added. A sad day.
The Icelandic government has warned that the airline’s collapse will impact the Icelandic economy. Around 30 percent of tourists visiting Iceland last year flew with WOW and the collapse could trigger a 16 percent drop in tourists this year. Icelandair’s shares rose dramatically at the opening of the Stock exchange before easing again.
Special “rescue” fares are being offered by Icelandair, easyJet and Norwegian. This Travel Alert has been posted on the following websites:
- Icelandic Transport Authority: www.samgongustofa.is / www.icetra.is
- Keflavik Airport: www.isavia.is/en
- WOW AIR: www.wowair.com
End of Operation of WOW AIR
Information for WOW AIR passengers
WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.
How will I reach my destination?
Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines.
Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available.
What are my rights?
Passengers whose ticket was paid with a credit card are advised to contact their credit card company to check whether a refund of the ticket cost will be issued.Passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent (within the European Economic Area) as a part of a package tour (a package which includes flights and accommodation or other services) are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight.
Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption. However, such compensation is often limited.
Passengers may also be entitled to compensation from WOW AIR, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator.
Where can I get up-to-date information?
This announcement will be published and continuously updated on the following websites:
General information about passenger rights can be found atwww.icetra.is