The writing has been on the wall for quite some time for the Icelandic ultra-low-cost-carrier that gained attention with its $99 or less one-way fares across the Atlantic. As of this morning, all flights on WOW air have been canceled and the airline has ceased operations, stranding thousands of travelers.
The Latest Transatlantic Ultra-Low-Cost-Carrier to Go Bust
The airline's business model and rapid expansion played a significant factor in its eventual downfall. Last year, WOW air introduced service to many new destinations in the U.S. Midwest and to Mumbai, India, which the airline briefly operated before suspending almost instantly after launching. Facing financial troubles, the airline was forced to sell off planes and restructure its flight network, scaling down from 14 airports in North America down to six.
By late 2018 the carrier was heavily in debt and, with its halved fleet due to a sell for a cash influx, the struggling airline reached out to investors to keep them afloat. Ultimately, it did not work. In November, acquisition talks with Keflavik co-tenant, Icelandair fell through. Following that failed bid, Indigo Partners, investors in other ULCC’s like Frontier and Volaris, signed an agreement in principle to back the cash strapped airline.
Late last week that deal dissolved and it was back to the drawing board for WOW who circled again to Icelandair for a last gasp effort. Those agreements failed, and WOW air was left without any suitors. On Monday, March 25 the airline issued a rash of flight cancellations following an airplane repossession in Montreal due to a lack of payments. This turned out to be the final blow to the company as they've become the latest budget carrier to fold and cease operations.
Related article: Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier Primera Air Goes Bust, Ceases Operations
Options if You’re Stranded or Have an Itinerary with WOW
If you are currently stranded due to WOW air’s shutdown, your best avenue is to contact other airlines that operate your scheduled route. In these rare instances, competing airlines will offer a “rescue fare” or reduced rates on available seats.
Icelandair is the first of these airlines to step up for customers who are affected by WOW's collapse. The fellow Icelandic airline is offering discounted economy tickets from select destinations for travelers who have already embarked on their journey. Fares to/from Iceland/North America are priced at $100, and Europe/North America are $160 excluding taxes and fees. More information regarding these rescue fares can be seen here.
If you have upcoming travel on WOW air but have yet to start your journey, the easiest method to receive a refund is to contact your credit card provider used to purchase your ticket. Most major credit card providers have built-in travel insurance for these occasions, and in most cases, you should receive a full refund.
Anyone who has purchased a travel package that included flights on WOW air should contact the tour operator of travel agency directly.
WOW air’s statement regarding its termination of flights and service can be found here.