A couple of months ago I wrote about how a group of American investors intended to purchase WOW Air’s assets, following the carrier’s collapse in March 2019.
Rather oddly they weren’t even the only party looking to launch a similar airline in Iceland, as some former WOW Air executives had a similar plan to launch an airline this fall.
The American investor behind the purchase of WOW Air’s assets is especially interesting. We’re talking about Michele Ballarin, who is one of the owners of USAerospace. Several weeks ago it was reported that this deal was called off over failure to make payments on time.
Well, I guess they figured that out, and the deal has happened.
Acquisition Of WOW Air Assets Complete
Per a press conference held in Iceland today, Ballarin’s company has acquired WOW Air’s assets.
According to the press conference:
- Flights will launch next month, in October 2019
- WOW Air will start with two planes, have four by next summer, and then 10-12 long term; that’s the “profit zone”
- The first route will be between Washington and Keflavik
- They will maintain WOW Air’s branding, because they feel it’s a strong brand that hasn’t been tarnished; “people miss flying WOW”
- They will initially use a US Air Operator’s Certificate, but eventually plan to acquire one in Iceland as well
- The type of planes to be used haven’t yet been clarified, but they like both Airbus and Boeing planes, so plan to use a mix of them
- They’ve committed 85 million USD to this venture
What Will Make The New WOW Air Different?
I watched the entire press conference from Ballarin. As I’ve said, I’m on safari all week, so I’ll be the first to admit that my brain might not be working fully. However, some of the stuff she says just confuses the heck out of me. Like this:
I’m also focused exclusively on my desk with bringing better nutrition back onboard aircraft. We want to make flying fun again for the flying public. For those of us who spend a lot of time in the air flying is a challenge because of security requirements to make sure the flying public is safe. But making flying fun again is something that’s going to be important to us not only to enhance the customer’s experience onboard but to be able to bring better nutrition onboard as well. We have a three star Michelin chef who is working very closely with us for the last two years to develop good nutrition onboard options.
What on earth is she even saying? So she’s starting a low cost carrier and is working with a three star Michelin chef to bring better nutrition onboard in order to make flying fun again?
The business model needs to be radically different for it to make sense, but the stuff she’s focused on just seems so minor and silly. For example, she talks about how they will use biometric data to board planes, so that it can be done in eight minutes. That’s nice and all, but lack of biometric boarding isn’t one of the reasons WOW Air failed in the first place.
She also wants to introduce a passenger lounge for everyone, with the following explanation:
I have requested to be able to have a passenger lounge for everybody flying on the aircraft. As I see it, the experience of flying is such that when you have a six hour flight it’s always a bit of a challenge if you come into a busy airport and are standing in a hallway for an hour or two in between flights. So knowing that from the economic model rows seven to the back of the aircraft really do pay for a lounge that is used by a handful of people that is privileged enough to fly in first and business class. We want to bring a lounge experience to everybody who flies onboard WOW. It’s a very innovative thought, but one that I think is long overdue.
Wait, what? What “model” is she looking at that those in “rows seven to the back of the aircraft” pay for lounge access for “a handful of people?” And if you’re a low cost carrier that’s even stranger, no?
“It’s now about putting the flight deck together and the gals in the back, the incredibly beautiful Icelandic flight attendants and guys who work in the back.”
You can see the full interview here:
I don’t really understand the world anymore. So we’re going to see an airline launch flights between Washington and Iceland right before that super popular winter transatlantic travel season. They’ll differentiate themselves by offering a lounge for everyone, biometric boarding, Making Flying Fun Again (#MFFA), and having healthy food thanks to a Michelin chef (because no one is focused quite on healthy dining like Michelin chefs!)?
Obviously this company is very serious and they’re doing this. This isn’t like Baltia, or anything. But watching the entire interview above just left me scratching my head.