WOW Airlines leaves thousands stranded in Iceland

Mike Ulishney, Staff Reporter

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The big purple plane that is the trademark of WOW Airlines may be their trademark no more. According to NBC, in late March, WOW Airlines became the next victim of failing budget airlines. Flying over 3.5 million people across the Atlantic last year, WOW struggled to remain in business and filed for bankruptcy on March 28.

According to CNBC, the initial idea behind WOW was to create a budget airline. WOW charged less for their tickets but put higher prices on luggage checking, seating, leg room and refreshments.

WOW Airlines first took off in 2012 and currently employs over 1,000 workers for their 11 aircraft fleet. WOW mainly flew planes across the Atlantic to destinations such as Iceland, Europe and parts of the United States.

The cause of the bankruptcy for WOW and many other small airlines was due to overbooking  flights and high fuel prices.

NBC stated that, over the past few months, WOW has been attempting to raise funds to cancel out their losses. However, they were not able to achieve their goal. On the last Thursday of March, WOW filed for bankruptcy.

The airline cancelled all of their flights and told their passengers to find other means of travel. This was a scary time for many travelers who were abroad and had no other means of getting back home. According to The Chicago Business Journal, many people were struggling to find other flights but United Airlines and American Airlines came to the rescue, helping the stranded passengers. According to CNBC, WOW stated that those who made purchases for their flights via debit card or credit card should attempt to receive their money back from their card company.

This was and still is a large conflict with many of the WOW passengers regarding ticket reimbursement. NBC reported that owners of businesses around Icelandic tourist attractions are fearful that their businesses may decline as a result of the loss of WOW Airlines. WOW accounted for 30% of tourists way-of-travel last year. With the casualty of WOW, tourism in Iceland may drop up to 16% this year according to NBC.

Only one week had passed since WOW Air has collapsed and cancelled all of their remaining flights. According to Simple Flying, the former CEO of WOW, Skuli Mogensen, is seeking to reboot a new airline with a plan similar to WOW’s. Mogensen plans on employing many key people that formerly worked for WOW.

Mogensen is looking for an investment of 40 million USD in exchange for 49% of the company, leaving Mogensen with the other 51%. This is valuing the new company at over 81 million USD. If they find the right investors, this new airline “WOW 2.0” would buy all of WOW’s remaining assets, including five aircrafts.

By June, this new company could be flying to 13 destinations. They plan to expand even further, and by 2020 plan to maintain a seven-aircraft fleet and by 2021 expand to a 10-aircraft fleet.

Though these plans seem promising, the question still remains, are investors willing to pay the 40 million and trust Skuli Mogensen who drove WOW into a $300 million hole?

Editor’s Note: Information from The Chicago Business Journal, NBC News and CNBC was used in this report.