WOW Air Ceases Operations

Filed Under: WOW Air

WOW Air has ceased operations effective immediately, so all flights are canceled, and a lot of people are finding themselves stranded right now. Icelandair is offering discounts to passengers who have been impacted by the WOW situation.

The way the airline has gone about this is bizarre. This morning the airline provided the following update:

WOW Air is in the final stages of finalizing equity raise with a group of investors. All flights have been postponed until documentation with all parties involved have been finalized.

Further information will be given at 9am.

Like, can you imagine the situation they must have been in to postpone flights by a few hours?

Well, it just recently became 9AM in Reykjavik, and the airline has updated their site to indicate that they’re ceasing operations:

WOW Air has ceased operations. All WOW Air flights have been cancelled. Read more here.

They haven’t updated their social channels, and there’s no “thank you for your support over the years,” or anything of the sort. Their travel alert page does have info on what you should do if you’re on an impacted flight, etc., though the advice they provide basically boils down to “tough luck.”

Unfortunately the ultra low cost transatlantic model just hasn’t panned out the way that many airlines had hoped. In the case of WOW Air, they never actually turned a profit, but rather were focused on growing market share.

I’m not sure if their long term strategy was just to be acquired, or if they had some delusional strategy to become profitable. However, over the past several months getting financing for operations like this has become more difficult, following several airline bankruptcies that we’ve seen in the past year.

For WOW Air things got really bad late last year:

And today WOW Air did the inevitable… this ended up having quite a bad impact on Iceland’s economy.

  1. They can sell or lease their A320s for a good amount of money now while the 737Max is still grounded. Probably factored into their decision

  2. Reminds me of the old business saying, “Expansion without gross margin is committing suicide”.

    We have 2 more airlines going to be bust in India, Jet Airways and Air India leaving only the low fare carriers Indigo and Spicejet.

  3. Asiana Airlines is also in financial trouble. Korean Air CEO got (kind of) ousted. Hong Kong Airlines/Hainan Airlines is also having difficult time. Turbulent times for aviation industry…

  4. They never had enough premium seating avaialble for me to consider using them.
    I am happy doing economy shorthaul but transatlantic I am prepared to pay more to be on a bigger jet with more comforts.
    Plus with all the add ons of bags, meals and seats, the tickets were rarely much cheaper than the legacy carriers.

  5. I would say wow, how heartless. They’ve cancelled all their flights and just a 2 sentence notice saying ‘screw you’ to all their unfortunate passengers who will now have zero help from Wow to get home. Hard to feel much sympathy for Wow with that attitude.

  6. Lucky, does this put the remaining carriers in the space in a better spot due to less competition? I’d hate to see the whole model collapse, if perhaps it’s just a case of too many airlines chasing not enough total passengers. I would not prefer to see fares on the legacy carriers double or triple due to lack of the low fare alternatives.

  7. Weirdly their fleet and crew were nearly all at their US outstations last night – so a very messy and abrupt end. Carriers like Monarch kept ops running until an orderly shut down could be executed

    To be clear – WOW won’t be operating any rescue flights. If you are in Iceland you’ll need to buy another ticket on Icelandair or another carrier- I expect they’ll offer some rescue rates soon

  8. Icelandair already offers rescue fares:
    The price for the discounted fare tickets will be priced at USD 60 (excluding taxes and fees) to Europe, and to US/Canada, the price will be USD 100 (excluding taxes and fees).

  9. A tad bit sad I will have never got to fly DTW-KEF. As a DTW’er, it would have been pretty cool to add that route to my flightdiary.

    Oh well.

  10. I strongly suspect by the end of the summer we’ll see Norwegian announce that they’re ending all transatlantic flights. It just doesn’t seem a viable LCC market. By returning to their strong intra-Europe market they can avoid becoming another statistic. They can also boost revenue by returning/selling/wet leasing their 787s…or if the MAX8 stays grounded, deploying the 787 on high view left me short haul.

  11. AlanD- agreed, I assume if they last through April, Norwegian will last through the summer as they should have enough cash from summer bookings to limp ahead. But once summer bookings slow down in August they will be SOL. Expect a September/October bankruptcy or major restructuring for Norwegian.

    Someone is going to get some nice barely used 787s at a good price!

  12. It’s a shame, because KEF is a really convenient connection point between the east coast and europe. It’s difficult, though, because there must be a sufficient number of places to connect to in order to fill planes. However, expanding without any profit is suicide. Without a large quantity of natural gas or oil to help subsidize such expansion, it evidently doesn’t work.

  13. So are they done for good? Just going to sell off the planes to another airline? Shame they couldn’t make it work with an investor. Only flew them once, but they put downward pressure on flight prices from the US to Europe.

  14. WOW isn’t price competitive.

    Everytime I price out all my add-ons Icelandair is still very competitive plus I get miles and AS recognition. If I didn’t need a stopover, legacy carriers do have decent prices.

    Both Iceland carriers are too optimistic about stopovers.
    I partly blame Blue Lagoon’s exorbitant prices and overcrowding. I would have done more few day stopovers. Iceland is a beautiful country but very little revisit value. Airlines think everyone will spend few extra days there. Most don’t, especially for a 2nd time.

    Only if the greedy Blue Lagoon tripple their fake pools and charge 10 Euros then more people would consider a stopover.

  15. Taking a step back, transatlantic demand is incredibly high. It seems like someone, be it Norwegian, JetBlue or someone else should be able to occupy a profitable niche right below the legacy airlines. What would it take to make it happen?

  16. Sorry for the stranded and duped pax, and of course for all the personnel involved (hope you all get sorted quickly). But apart from that I won’t miss them. Business model that was doomed – take note all the others out there who are attempting the same – It Doesn’t Work!

  17. I’m guessing that we all thought that they would be ceasing operations in the next 3 days yesterday…..

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