A new player on the runway
Wow Air is changing up the international travel game. The company announced Tuesday it would offer $199 flights from the West Coast to various European cities starting in June.
The low-cost Icelandic airliner has already seen big success in linking Boston, Washington, Toronto and Montreal with European cities since last year.
All of Wow’s flights connect through Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, and flying there from the U.S. only costs $99.
Wow founder, Skúli Mogensen, is an Icelandic entrepreneur and investor who lived in Silicon Valley and then ran OZ Communications — which sold for hundreds of millions to Nokia in 2008.
In an interview with Forbes, Mogensen said, “We are really pioneering the low-cost model on long-haul flights. No one has done it with Transatlantic flights.’ Low cost airliners like Southwest in the U.S. and Ryanair in Europe are some of the most successful in the industry, but they’re limited to mostly domestic flights. However, competitor Norwegian Air has been operating low cost flights between the United States and Europe since 2013.
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Mogensen says the distinction of Wow Air is service to Reykjavik, which he considers more convenient, while Norwegian flies passengers to Oslo.
No-frills, just service
If you want the conveniences of meals and luggage service, you’ll have to pay about 20% extra per ticket.
“You only pay for what you use,” said Mogensen. “If you travel light, there are no extras.”
For the average passenger wanting the average extras, a one-way ticket to Europe would be about $240.
At only two years old, Wow expects to bring in $300 million in revenue this year with margins that rival the most profitable carriers. “We’re the fastest growing business in Iceland,” said Mogensen. But, he says Wow Air doesn’t undercut the competition, because it provides a brand new model of international airline service.
Starting June 9, Wow Air will begin offering five weekly flights to Reykjavik from San Francisco, and four weekly flights from Los Angeles starting on June 15. Wow serves 21 European destinations including London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam — from Reykjavik.
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