Launching Soon: WOW Air Italy, Or Something

Filed Under: WOW Air

I’ve actually never seen a startup airline quite like this before. The rebirth of WOW Air is odd because it seems to me like the people running it are serious about the airline (unlike Baltia), and they have the cash (unlike Global Ghana Airlines #LowAltitudeFlightAttendants), yet I keep thinking this whole thing is a practical joke.

WOW Air’s bizarre relaunch up until now

For a bit of background, WOW Air ceased operations in March 2019, and the airline is making a comeback. The person behind this is an American businesswoman, Michele Ballarin, who is otherwise best known for negotiating with pirates and warlords.

She recognized the original WOW Air wasn’t profitable, but will make the changes needed to make the new airline work.

How? By investing in the passenger experience. They’ll have a lounge for all passengers, they’ll work with a Michelin chef to bring better nutrition on planes, and they’ll have biometric boarding. You know, the usual if you’re running an ultra low cost carrier…

Beyond that, the way they’ve gone about relaunching is odd:

Coming soon: WOW Italy

Well, yesterday WOW Air shared an announcement dated February 24, 2020, indicating that WOW Italy is “landing soon in Rome and Sicily.” As it’s explained:

“We are proud to announce the establishment of WOW Italy offices for passenger and cargo operations to commence in the very near future. We welcome the WOW Italy team of extraordinary aviation professionals to WOW World.”

This at least explains why earlier in the month someone was announced as “Director of WOW Italy.”

What is WOW Air even talking about?

We have absolutely no clue what WOW Air is even talking about, which is why this whole thing is so strange:

  • Is WOW Air planning on launching operations out of Italy not to Iceland, as they perhaps see that as a market with potential? If so, are they setting it up as a separate subsidiary with a different operating certificate?
  • Is Italy going to be WOW Air’s first destination out of Iceland other than Washington? If you’re launching a transatlantic airline, making Sicily one of your first two transatlantic destinations certainly seems unusual

Bottom line

WOW Air 2.0 deserves an award for being one of the most unusual airline (re)startups ever. First they were going to be a passenger airline out of Washington, then they were going to be a cargo airline, then they were going to open a coffee shop, and now they’ll be Italian. 😉

Maybe a gelato stand is next?

(Tip of the hat to @simply_aviation)

  1. It’s the perfect time to start an airline, didn’t you know? Italy has proven to be a strong market for their airlines, the global economy is strong, and it’s not like there’s a viral pandemic or something..

  2. Sal’s must be the only plausible explanation. I wonder if it will have employees or even sell tickets? They could have researched their hustle a little better and perhaps understand that the absurd strategy should be red flags to investors, passengers, and financial regulators. Maybe this lady just came back from Sedona and feels she found the sweet spot that math and rudimentary accounting don’t seem to support.

  3. Well with investor Ballarin’s history in arms dealing and the Sicilian mafia connection I think we’re looking at some kind of Iran/Contra type hijinks in the works. Maybe this time to overthrow the government of Greenland from a base in Iceland.

  4. Sounds like WOW Air will be taking over some of the domestic Italian routes from Air Italy. These routes are heavily subsidized by the Government to boost connectivity between mainland Italy and the islands.

  5. We all mocked PLAY when they announced their plans to succeed WOW but the way things are looking they might be the more successful of the two.

    Who would want to work for WOW after all the publicised issues. They must be paid one hell of a salary

  6. I feel like WOW air is taking advantage of the liquidation of Air Italy, when now there is room for growth in Italy with one-the-verge-of-bankruptcy Alitalia and now-dead Air Italy. Bad Decision? No. Good Decision? Likely. Logical? Yes, very.

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