A US Investor Is Reviving Wow Air Six Months After It Collapsed

The budget airline went bankrupt in March, taking Icelandic tourism down with it

Wow Air Airplane
Icelandic budget airline Wow Air is coming back in October, now based in the U.S.
ERIC SALARD via Flickr
By Alex Lauer / September 12, 2019 8:10 am

Less than six months ago, thousands of people were left stranded when Icelandic budget airline Wow Air suddenly ceased operations. Apart from the passengers, the carrier’s home country was also immediately impacted — by the drop in tourism.

Back in June, we hoped an American carrier would come to the rescue, and it turns out that was half correct. As the Verge writes, Wow Air will be making a comeback this October thanks to a new U.S. investor: USAerospace Associates.

“Michele Ballarin, chief executive of USAerospace Associates, said in a press conference last week that Wow Air will relaunch with just two planes in operation, with the potential to increase that number to more than 10 aircraft by summer 2020,” writes the Verge. 

Two planes? That may not sound like much of an airline at all, but Wow Air’s fleet size has never rivaled the larger carriers. When the company shut down on a Thursday in March, there were only 29 flights scheduled for that day. And this plan to start small and grow from there, rather than come back full force, would seem to show that this is a realistic plan to bring the airline back rather than a sort of last-ditch cash influx. 

There are a few additional differences other than the number of planes. While Wow Air was previously headquartered in Reykjavík and based out of Keflavík International Airport, it will now keep facilities in those locations but call Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., its home. Additionally, the plan is to also offer waiting lounges and in-flight meals crafted by a Michelin-starred chef. In other words, a pointedly non-budget experience.

Is that pure marketing jargon to get people to trust Wow Air after a spectacular flameout? Or is it a sign that the new investor is rethinking the airline’s offerings instead of just sticking with the same old (unsustainable) model? We’ll see come October.

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Main photo: ERIC SALARD via Flickr

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