• Joe Breitfeller

Thanks to U.S. Heiress, WOW Air to Give it Another Go This October

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

The European airline industry continues to shakeout with the loss of Monarch & Air Berlin (2017), Cobalt & Primera (2018) and Flybmi & WOW (2019).

WOW Air A321/Shutterstock

Even Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline narrowly escaped collapse last January with an eleventh-hour rescue by a Connect Airways, a Consortium led by Virgin Atlantic and the Stobart Group, operator of the Irish regional airline Stobart Air.

According to the International Business Times/AFP News, at a press conference in Iceland last Friday, Michelle Ballarin, head of USAerospace Associates LLC pledged $85M to resurrect the airline, with a 51% equity stake to be held by Icelandic investors. The airline collapsed last March after a previously announced takeover by Icelandair never materialized. Ms. Ballarin is a Virginia heiress and socialite who is involved in the equestrian community and serves as CEO of Select Armor Inc., a firm which manufactures ballistic vests.

The resurrected airline will be based at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and plans to re-introduce service to Keflavik Airport, about 30 miles outside of Reykjavik, utilizing two aircraft this October. At the press conference, Ms. Ballarin stated that the airline planned to have 10-12 aircraft by the Summer of 2020. While still offering low airfares, the hallmark of the original ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC), the reboot will offer access to airport lounges and a menu developed by a Michelin-starred chef.

It has been a tough slog for European ULCC’s like WOW Air and Norwegian, which ceased transatlantic flights from Ireland last August, amid significant financial impacts associated with the continuing 737-Max grounding.

In the meantime, competition for cost conscious flyers on transatlantic routes only appears to be stiffening. U.S. low cost carrier JetBlue announced last Spring that it would begin transatlantic service from New York-JFK and Boston-Logan in 2021.

Source(s): International Business Times/AFP