WOW Air Goes Under

When people think WOW Air, they probably think of their absurdly low transatlantic fares or their bright purple planes. Unfortunately, those thoughts will just be a memory going forward.

This morning, WOW Air announced that they would be ceasing operations immediately. Per the airline, “WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.”

WOW Air’s homepage

RIP WOW Air

It’s no secret that WOW had been dealing with some serious financial difficulties the past year.

In November 2018, Icelandair agreed to acquire WOW Air. However, Icelandair backed out later that month after WOW had to return several aircraft.

Shortly after that, private equity group Indigo Partners (owners of low-cost carriers Frontier, Volaris, and Wizz Air) reached a preliminary agreement to purchase the airline. After the announcement, WOW Air began cancelling routes left and right in an effort to make the airline profitable.

You won’t be seeing these at any more

In recent days, the dire financial situation of WOW Air really came to a head.

Last week, WOW Air announced that Indigo Partners had pulled their investment in WOW. In that same announcement, WOW announced that they had re-entered takeover talks with Icelandair. The airlines planned to conclude talks by the end of last week.

Sunday, Icelandair announced they would not be investing in WOW. At this point, WOW Air’s collapse seemed inevitable. The next day (Monday), the airline began grounding and had two airplanes repossessed by creditors.

Just two days ago, WOW Air announced that bondholders had agreed to convert their bonds into equity in an effort to buy more time. It looks like that only bought them two more days, as the airline ceased operations this morning.

Trouble in the Transatlantic Market?

Norwegian 787, from Norwegian Air’s Facebook page

While WOW Air was far from the best product in the sky, it was undoubtedly a positive for consumers. The growth of ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) in the transatlantic market have brought historically low fares across the pond the past years.

However, as evidenced by the collapse of WOW Air and Primera Air, business has been increasingly difficult for ULCCs in the transatlantic market as of late. With Norwegian Air also facing financial difficulties, it’s possible we’re be looking at the twilight of transatlantic ULCCs. Let’s hope for the sake of low fares that this isn’t the case.

What to do if you’re booked on WOW Air

The unfortunate answer here is, you’re out of luck. However, there are several steps you can take to reduce your frustration.

  • If you purchased your flights with a credit card, contact the credit card company to dispute the charge.
  • Several airlines may offer discounted “rescue fares” to passengers immediately impacted by WOW folding. If you’ve been impacted by WOWs cancellations, keep an eye out for these in the coming days. Icelandair has announced discounted economy fares for passengers impacted by the WOW Air cancellations between now and April 11th.
  • You’ll also be entitled to EC 261 compensation. However, given the airline’s financial situation, I wouldn’t count on getting anything out of it.
  • WOW Air has also provided some advice on their website.

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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