Wow Air Fails, Cancels All Flights

On Sunday I asked whether transatlantic low cost carrier Wow Air was toast. I phrased it in the form of a question but pointed out that while the answer to internet posts phrased as a question is almost always ‘no’ in this case it was probably the opposite.

This morning they ceased operations while stranding passengers. Your best recourse at this point if you hold tickets is likely to be with your credit card company. Claims by unsecured creditors with the airline’s bankruptcy administrator are far less likely to be successful.

Wow Air, Copyright: zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

In the fall it looked like Icelandair might acquire Wow Air, saving the carrier but also consolidating the low cost transatlantic carrier market and bringing about higher fares. No deal was agreed to, however.

Wow Air sold planes to stay afloat. Then with the expectation that Indigo Partners would invest they ran a huge fare sale. But I wondered whether the airline would be around to fly folks who bought travel into the future.

The Indigo deal came with harsher conditions than Wow Air realized and they couldn’t come to a deal. Icelandair jumped back into the mix but couldn’t reach a deal.

Then the airline said they were on the verge of a debt-equity swap with creditors to keep the airline going. They even announced the ‘suspension’ of flights while they finalized the deal. And hours later they were done.

Ultimately there have been too many players flying too many seats at too low a price for too long, in a market that’s long been challenging, and airlines trying to make it in this environment have struggled.

Primera shut down and Norwegian was near collapse at the end of 2018. Norwegian had on again, off again talks with British Airways parent IAG over being acquired and remains on the ropes. The era of $49 one way fares between the US and Europe has been richly rewarding for consumers but remains an open question going forward.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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