Wow, an Icelandic Budget Airline, Suspends Service


Wow Air, an Icelandic budget airline that has been scrambling for money, ceased operations on Thursday after talks over financing fell apart.

Wow canceled all flights on Thursday morning and advised passengers to check for alternatives with other airlines.

Gudjon Helgason, a spokesman for Keflavik Airport near Reykjavik, said there were no large groups stranded at the airport because the airline had sent messages to passengers telling them that the flights would be canceled. “There’s no chaos or anything like that,” Mr. Helgason said.

The airline, which in 2018 flew 3.5 million passengers to places like New York and Toronto, has been desperately trying to shore up its finances.

Wow Air’s financial struggles have been a source of concern in Iceland. The finance minister said contingency plans were in place if the airline were to collapse, including assistance for stranded passengers, but added the government would not rescue the airline, according to local news reports.

The airline’s issues also prompted the Iceland Pilots’ Union to write to Iceland’s press society asking for an inquiry into the critical reporting of Wow’s finances, to see whether the journalists had received benefits from competitors. The press association responded to say that trying to trace the company’s problems to journalists would be like going “to a goat house to look for wool.”

During Wow’s discussions over potential financing, the airline reduced its fleet of 20 aircraft to 11 by selling four airplanes and negotiating the return of some aircraft to leasing companies.

Wow Air’s demise follows a series of airline closures in Europe, where the aviation industry has expanded at a furious pace, offering passengers longer trips at cheaper prices. But many of these airlines, already grappling with narrow profit margins, have faced fluctuating oil prices and bills piling up after summer holiday periods.

Primera, another low-cost airline offering trans-Atlantic flights, collapsed in October. The company, based in Latvia and Denmark, filed for bankruptcy after struggling with higher fuel costs and issues with its aircraft. Around the same time, airlines based in Switzerland, Belgium and Germany also folded.

Flybmi, a British regional airline, and Germania, a budget airline based in Berlin, filed for bankruptcy in February. Flybe, another British airline, was bought out in January by a consortium that includes Virgin Atlantic.



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