Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW air will launch flights to the US West Coast from summer 2016 after confirming that Los Angeles and San Francisco will join Baltimore, Boston, Montreal and Toronto in its transatlantic network. However, unlike these routes which are serviced using Airbus A321, the budget carrier will acquire widebody A330-300s to reach the US West Coast.
The airline became a pioneer of ultra-low-cost travel between Europe and North America when it debuted its flights into the US market earlier this year and will replicate this in Canada with its new flights to Montreal and Toronto from May 2016. This latest growth is described by the carrier’s chief executive officer, Skúli Mogensen as a “game changer for WOW air” as it seeks to cement itself as the “industry leader” in the ultra-low-cost long haul category.
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“We are thrilled to add Los Angeles and San Francisco to our fast growing network. This is a game changer for WOW air as we cement ourselves as the industry leader in the ultra-low-cost long haul category. With the addition of these long range A330-300 aircraft to our fleet, we will be able to offer fares from Europe to the US West Coast far cheaper than our competitors whilst maintaining great service with a smile, as we did with our routes to Boston, Washington DC, Toronto and Montreal,” he said.
WOW air will acquire three new Airbus A330-300s for the routes to Los Angeles (four times weekly) and San Francisco (five times weekly) from Keflavik, which will connect to the carrier’s various routes across Europe. The aircraft will be configured in a single-class arrangement with seating for 340 passengers.
“We have had a tremendously positive response to our low prices on our current transatlantic routes and this gives us confidence that passengers will take up the chance to travel even further afield. Equally, we’re sure Californians will welcome our super low fares to Europe,” added Mogensen.
Our analysis shows that the initial WOW air US West Coast schedule could provide scope for further network growth. With a flight time of around nine hours between Keflavik and San Francisco and Los Angeles, the nine weekly flights will require two aircraft to meet the carrier's main connecting European flights and there is scope for them to also be used to serve another long-haul market or to boost capacity on the existing WOW air European network. The third aircraft, possibly arriving at a later date to the first two, would also provide further growth opportunities with a range that could include destinations as far afield as Aruba and Hawaii within its flight envelope.
The US West Coast is already well-linked to Europe via non-stop services from 17 different operators which this month are offering 495 one-way flights and over 162,000 seats to Los Angeles from 13 airports and 400 one-way flights with 125,000 seats to San Francisco from nine points across Europe. However, WOW air believes its low-fare strategy will stimulate the market to its one-stop strategy via Iceland, offering an alternative option from markets already served and a new one-stop transfer option from others.