- Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier Wow Air ceased operations on Thursday.
- Reykjavik-based Wow Air suffered through a challenging 2018 which culminated with the airline slashing 111 jobs and cutting its fleet size by half.
- Wow Air is at least the fifth European airline to collapse to since October.
Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier Wow Air announced on Thursday that it has ceased operations. Reykjavik-based Wow Air suffered through a challenging 2018 which culminated with the airline slashing 111 jobs and cutting its fleet size by half.
In the first nine months of 2018, the airline’s losses more than doubled, to $US33.6 million from $US13.5 million in the same period in 2017, even as revenue surged by 31%, to $US501 million.
Still, the airline’s sudden collapse took both its employees and passengers by surprise, stranding hundreds around the world.
“My heart broke into 100 pieces this morning when I got the news,” a Wow Air flight attendant told Business Insider on Thursday. “I loved every single flight that I operated, even though it was sometimes a bit of a struggle waking up at 3 a.m. for a morning flight.”
After launching in 2012, Wow Air became known for its brightly painted purple planes, no-frills in-flight products, and low prices. In some cases, the airline offered one-way flights between the US and Europe for as little as $US49.
Unfortunately, the carrier’s decision to acquire wide-body Airbus A330-300 jetliners and a move away from its traditional ultra-low-cost business model proved to be a mistake, Wow Air founder and CEO Skuli Mogensen told Business Insider in January.
Sadly, the collapse of Wow Air is an old story we’ve heard before. In fact, no fewer than five European airlines have gone out of business since October.
Here’s a closer look at those five airlines.
Primera Air: defunct October 2018.
Primera Air was a subsidiary of Icelandic tourism company Primera Travel Group. Primera Air had been in the process of expanding into the low-cost inter trans-Atlantic airline with a fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft. The carrier ceased operations on October 2, 2018.
Cobalt Airways: defunct October 2018.
Cypress-based Cobalt Air was founded in late 2015 following the shutdown of the country’s national airline Cypress Airways earlier that year. Unfortunately, the airline could not sustain its operation financially and shut down on October 17, 2018.
Germania: defunct February 2019.
Founded in 1978, Berlin-based Germania offered by charter and scheduled passenger service. The airline ceased operations on February 5, 2019, citing financial insolvency due to high fuel prices and the devaluation of the Euro against the US dollar.
Flybmi/British Midland Regional: defunct February 2019.
Founded in 1987, Flybmi was once the regional arms of British Midland International. The airline was sold off in 2012 following BMI’s acquisition by British Airways. Flybmi shut down on February 16, 2019. The airline cited rising spikes in fuels costs and rising carbon costs due to Brexit as contributing causes of its demise.
Wow Air: defunct March 2019.
Founded in 2012, the Icelandic ultra-low-cost carriers collapsed on March 28, 2019, after failing to secure new investment from Icelandair and private equity firm Indigo Partners. The airline blamed its decision to add widebody Airbus A330-300 jetliners a key reason for its poor finances.
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