WOW Air Cancels Flights After Aircraft Repossession

Filed Under: WOW Air

Update: WOW Air has ceased operations, and all flights have been canceled. Icelandair is offering discounted tickets to passengers stranded by WOW.

Things are looking even worse for WOW Air than they were looking last night, if that’s possible.

Last night we learned that WOW Air is basically out of options. The airline needs money, and over the past several months has tried to reach a deal with Icelandair twice, as well as a deal with Indigo Partners. All three of those attempted negotiations fell through, because apparently WOW Air is in such bad shape. The airline has so much debt and few assets.

While I don’t like to predict doom and make a situation worse than it is, I figure at this point WOW Air has at most days, unless some investors swoop in and do something now. But given the deals that haven’t materialized until now, that seems highly unlikely.

While WOW Air is still operating, they’ve started canceling some flights. For example, if you look at WOW Air’s arrivals & departures page:

  • On March 25, flights to/from London are canceled, as well as charter flights from Miami to both Havana and Holguin
  • On March 26, flights to/from Brussels

The page actually lists a lot more cancelations than that, though many of the listed cancelations are for flights they’ve canceled long ago. I imagine the number of cancelations is potentially going to be increasing.

What’s going on? Well, apparently one of WOW Air’s A321s, TF-PRO, was repossessed in Montreal last night, due to lack of payments. The airline has subsequently sent TF-DOG to Montreal to operate the flight. That plane is now there, but also hasn’t departed.

Personally I’d highly recommend against booking WOW Air flights at this point, and if you are booked on them in the coming days, keep a close eye on the flight status to see if the flight cancels.

That might not even be enough, though, because the airline is also canceling flights with virtually no notice, so you may find yourself stuck in Iceland, or showing up to the airport for a flight that’s not actually operating.

It’s sad to see the ultra low cost transatlantic model slowly collapse. At the same time, the business model never seemed sustainable to begin with. I of course feel bad for all airline employees who have lost jobs, as they’re the biggest losers in all of this, having worked hard to make these airlines successful.

In my opinion there has been a certain arrogance among management at some of these airlines. Maybe it’s just largely the confidence associated with so many startups nowadays, but WOW Air’s CEO has always struck me as being way over confident in terms of the carrier’s business model. It’s also interesting that WOW Air’s press page has a total of four pictures, and all of them are of the CEO. I’m just saying…

  1. Sad to see this, even though it comes as no surprise. I liked flying WOW and especially loved them driving down prices. At this point it’s like a bad accident and I can’t look away…curious to see how long it takes to unravel at this point.

  2. Chicago and Pittsburgh are permanently closed; WOW simply hasn’t updated their city flight status pages (could be for those who booked tickets a while ago but never actually checked their flights). You reported it back in January (I don’t think I can post links but headline “WOW Air Cuts Chicago Flights”)

  3. No surprise to me. I considered using Wow vs Icelandair for a trip several months ago. After adding in optional services (that we needed), which allowed an apples to apples comparison, Wow was not a bargain. The low fare may be great if you are traveling alone, don’t care where you sit, and are traveling with little more than a toothbrush. How much of the flying public are impecunious ultra light middle seat back of the plane travelers who don’t care if the sit next to their traveling companions??!

  4. On the whole, I’m just not sure that the LCC model is really sustainable in the long-term when applied to a true long haul operation given issues like: aircraft utilization rates and down-up line connection traffic.

    I can clearly see the economic work, viably so, for the short to medium haul market, but for long haul (like trans PAC/Atl) I’m just not sold that it can be done profitably and I’m the long term.

    To me, I think you’d need massive scalability to make it work and the lack of true premium cabin volume (and RASM that comes with it) to me is another huge hurdle.

  5. I am very sad to hear about WOW S collapse. I travelled numerous times SFO to Dub route. I found the staff so great and helpful in every way. I hope they can get work elsewhere. Flying with no frills really suited me and my family. I hope they can be rescued.

  6. Is anyone looking at a possible takeover for this airline. Or is the balance sheet just too bad.

  7. We have a flight booked in July. Trying to figure out if we cancel now what the fee is. If we wait until they officially go under is the risk that we get nothing back? Not sure how these things work. Does anyone know?

  8. I think a big issue with trans-Atlantic LCCs is that a lot of Americans want to go to Europe — it’s kind of a dream vacation! — but a lot of Europeans don’t have the same travel dreams for visiting America, given they can travel almost anywhere in the world — and many of these places will be cheaper to visit than the USA — for under €500 RT. And since LCCs won’t capture trans-Atlantic business travelers — well, there you go!

  9. if the flight *is canceled. – not if cancels; making it seem like the flight is going to cancel itself.

    airline employees most at a loss.* – not the biggest losers; making it seem like WOW air employees are losers. although unintentional, really didn’t like this implication.

  10. It’s a shame. I enjoyed flying with them several times. The service was always remarkably good for the price, the equipment fresh and relatively comfortable. I knew the price was too good to be sustainable, so just took advantage of it while I could. I do fly business, but save it for trips to Asia or trans-Pacific. To get to/from Europe WOW was perfect.

  11. There really is no way a country of 325,000 people can sustain more than one airline. Lots of people want to visit Iceland, but it’s really not enough to support an ULCC.

    Tickets from North America to Europe are cheap enough that few people would go for $99 fares on WOW, along with the hassles of bag fees, seat selection fees, and so on.

  12. While many of you post about WOW! “driving down the prices” this fact just proves one thing. It is greed to save a few dollars that drove their business. Does anyone ever stop to wonder: Are they cutting back on needed maintenance and repairs so they can offer a low price? I like FAIR prices as well as the next person but HOW you get to your FAIR PRICE is as important as the price. I am not going 30,000+ feet up in the air on a plane that MAY have dubious maintenance performed. I will just pay more and arrive in one piece.

  13. I flew WOW from NY to Iceland and Back to DFW when they had that service. Cost 40% less than the majors. I had great service and no problems. I’m sorry to see them in dire straights. That said, the pricing of flights is insane. I want to go to Scotland this summer and the AA price is $2550 per person economy. OR 120,000 miles and $1,450 fees. We needed something to compete with AA, Delta, United, etc, or there is no limit to the cost of an airline ticket.

  14. “We need something to compete with AA, etc. or there is no limit to the cost of an airline ticket”. Where is WOW airlines NOW. I will never play airline roulette with my life or anyone in my families life. If they are way cheaper than their competitors there has to be a reason. Pilot experience? Maintenance? WHERE are they cutting expenses? No thank you I will take piece of mind every time.

  15. Well, now maybe Mogensen can run for political office having run this airline into the ground.

  16. I flew to Iceland with WOW and it was the worst flight ever. No room and no air conditioning. Cheap flying aside, no wonder they are folding.

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