WOW Air’s rapid expansion in America has taken a turn and the airline has announced it is pulling service from several airports by the end of the month. The Icelandic low-cost-carrier bolstered its U.S. offerings earlier this spring by adding nonstop options to its base in Reykjavik (KEF) and onward from Cleveland (CLE), Cincinnati (CVG), St. Louis (STL), and Detroit (DTW). This aggressive move to increase the airline’s presence in the Midwest was short lived and after five months they're axing three of these routes, with Detroit sticking around at the moment as the lone survivor.
Has the Airline Over-Expanded too Fast?
Midwest routes aren't the only airports that are seeing the axe. The end of October will also see flight options shuttered from Dallas (DFW) and New York (JFK). So if you were hoping for a $99 one-way to take to the Northern Lights from the following airports, you will need to find another carrier.
Routes to be eliminated:
Cincinnati (CVG) – last flight October 25, 2018
Cleveland (CLE) – last flight October 26, 2018
Dallas (DFW) – last flight October 26, 2018
New York (JFK) – last flight October 26, 2018
St. Louis (STL) – last flight January 6, 2019
As you can see, the airline's troubles extended beyond the Midwest, with the cutting of the New York and Dallas service. Flights from EWR remain on the booking calendar. In Dallas, American Airlines started nonstop flights to Reykjavik earlier this year, and Icelandair is also present at DFW. There wasn't much need for three airlines to compete on a somewhat niche route.
It seems like the airline is trying to throw darts on the map and see which airports stick. WOW Air claims the demand wasn’t as strong as they hoped for in the Midwest markets, but that is something they should’ve ran the numbers on before committing to such a significant expansion. A similar issue is happening with its Tel Aviv (TLV) route as the airline halted service several times only to announce recently that it would be adding it back to its network as a seasonal offering in the spring of 2019. This reinstatement is most likely tied to the fallout from the U.S. routes and now WOW can repurpose planes for TLV and its newly touted route to India’s’ New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL).
The trans-Atlantic market is a tough one, and ultra-low-cost-carriers are trying to figure out the best methods to make it profitable. Unfortunately, it seems like many airlines are having a tough go of it, with the bankruptcy of Primera Air earlier this month to the ongoing budget woes at Norwegian, WOW Air will need to do a better job at choosing its markets and new destinations if it wants to remain financially sound.
In related news, despite cutting service from five U.S. airports, the airline is set to launch Orlando (MCO) service on December 19th and will reveal a new North American destination sometime next week. Will it stick around for long? Or will it be another shot and a miss by the budget carrier? Check back here for the latest on WOW Air's game of musical chairs.