ThrowBackThursday: WOW air’s Ultra Low-Cost Long-Haul Launch

At Routesonline we’ve decided to take a look back at a breaking article from the same time last year and revisit it 12 months later to see what’s happened since we released the news.

In a real sense of déjà vu, among our most popular stories this time last year was a report on the plans of Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW air to launch long-haul flights between Europe and the United States via Keflavik International Airport. Here’s the November 5, 2013 article... WOW air Breaks into North America.

The airline used last year’s World Travel Market as the springboard for promoting the project which was due to launch in spring 2014 with a six times weekly link from Iceland to Boston and connections across WOW air’s European network.

However, things did not go to plan and by February 2014 the carrier has abandoned the project after failing to secure the necessary slots to offer a sustainable schedule across the Atlantic and connections in and out of Europe.

But, fast forward eleven months from last year’s report and once again WOW air revealed plans to bring its form of the ultra low-cost model to the long-haul market with basic promotional fares from just £99 return between Keflavik and the US.

So what has changed in the eleven months since it first announced its transatlantic ambitions? Well, quite a lot actually!

The carrier still plans to launch with a six times weekly link between Keflavik and Boston with a March 27, 2015 start date, but it has already revealed plans to add a second route with a four times weekly link to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from June 4, 2015.

And significantly, rather than leasing a Boeing 757-200 as planned in 2013, WOW air will serve both markets with extended-range Airbus A321 equipment, similar to the A320s it uses on its flights to Europe.

According to the airline’s chief executive officer, Skúli Mogensen, this is just the beginning of the carrier’s plans to transform low-cost transatlantic flights.

“Not only are we providing flights to the USA for less than a standard London to Edinburgh train ticket, we’re opening the market to a whole new market of travellers who might previously not have been able to afford transatlantic travel,” he said.

“The low-cost airline market is scrambling to offer cheap flights to North America and I’m happy that we‘ll be amongst the first to do so and at a price point that will no doubt cause our rivals to re-evaluate their plans,” he added.

In an interview this week with CNBC, Skuli Mogensen explained why the location of Iceland is central to the success of the airline's bold transatlantic business model.


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