WOW Air has ceased all operations after failing to secure new funding. On a message on its website, the airline said all flights had been cancelled. Passengers are being told to book alternative flights with different airlines – WOW Air has even suggested passengers ask about so-called ‘rescue fares’.
WOW Air joins a growing list of low-cost carriers that have gone bankrupt in the last 12-months including Primera Air, PrivatAir, Small Planet Airlines, Cobalt, Germania, and flybmi.
We are sorry for those affected by the cessation of WOW air’s operations Please see information on your rights and next steps at https://t.co/GMX3xjuVoH if you were due to be travelling with the airline. #wow #wowair
— MFA Iceland 🇮🇸 (@MFAIceland) March 28, 2019
The Icelandic Travel Authority said in a statement that several airline would be offering discounted rescue fares to stranded passengers. Icelandair if offering flat rate rescue fares of just USD $60 from Europe and $100 from the United States – although that doesn’t taxes and fees which may bump up the fare can quite a bit depending on where passengers are stranded.
Meanwhile, easyJet is offering rescue fares of £110 between London Stansted and Keflavik for just £110. Norwegian says any WOW Air passenger will be entitled to a 25% discount on sectors which overlap on the Norwegian network – so, for example, stranded passengers could fly from London Gatwick, Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam to New York JFK or from London and Paris to Boston.
Eastern European budget carrier, Wizz Air is also offering discount fares from Keflavik to London and Warsaw (and vice versa) for just €79.99.
Icelandic budget carrier, WOW Air says it has suspended all flight operations while it completes the final stages of raising new equity to keep the airline afloat. All flights have been (at least temporarily) cancelled and future flight bookings are closed. The airline says it has informed passengers due to travel today via email and text message – passengers are currently being given the option to request a full refund or list onto the next available WOW Air flight.
Last week, WOW Air announced that the Phoenix-based equity investment firm, Indigo Partners had pulled out of a rescue deal – plunging the future of the low-cost airline into doubt. Wow and Indigo had been in talks for months after reaching a preliminary takeover arrangement in November 2018.
In a last-ditch effort to save itself, WOW Air – which had already turned its back on a separate deal with rival Icelandair once already – said it would go back into talks with Icelandair in an attempt to forge some sort of deal. Several days later and the two airlines issued a joint statement, pointedly announcing that a deal would “not materialize”.
Somehow, WOW Air then managed to go back to its bondholders and got formal approval to convert their bonds into equity, while continuing discussion with investors to keep funding the loss-making airline. It looks like if WOW Air can’t get that deal fully approved in the next few hours then it really has run out of both time and money – an update is expected at 9am (local).
In the first nine months of 2018, the airline reported a loss of USD $33.6 million on the back of revenues of just $501 million. WOW has failed to file its full end of year financial results for 2018.
As recently as late last year, WOW Air was talking about expanding its route network to destinations as far-flung as Dehli but those plans have long been forgotten. The airline has already reduced its fleet of aircraft from 20 to 11 aircraft – offloading its wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft and even selling off some Airbus A321’s. More than 100 staffers were made redundant just before the end of the year.
WOW Air’s fleet of aircraft are currently scattered across its route network, with planes stranded in Boston, Newark, Toronto and Miami.