WOW Air just dodged bankruptcy while the rest of us were wrapping presents and attending holiday parties. An entity called Indigo Partners stepped in at the last minute to rescue the carrier with an investment of $75 million. Indigo Partners already owns several low-cost airlines; the bad news is that those $99 flights to Iceland for which WOW is so famous are probably gone for good.
It has been a rocky few months for WOW Air. The carrier was forced to get rid of more than 100 full-time employees and decrease its fleet down to just 11 planes. In addition, the airline completely canceled several routes, and there is hope that the new deal with Indigo Partners will help WOW to make the most of its remaining 1,000 employees and diminished fleet. The acquisition seemed to come out of nowhere. In fact, it was widely believed that rival carrier Icelandair would purchase WOW, but that deal fell through during talks in November.
What will WOW Air do with the new investment from Indigo Partners? The carrier will need to focus on paying back any outstanding debts that it owes. A large percentage of the funds that come in from the new deal will likely be used to restructure the airline from top to bottom. It’s hard to say exactly what that will mean for customers. However, you can probably count on the fact that WOW will be pretty reluctant to give away too many perks to customers when it has Indigo Partner breathing down its neck and keeping an eye on every penny. The fact that WOW Air’s fleet has been reduced to single-aisle Airbus planes is pretty telling. It means that WOW will no longer operate as a long-haul carrier. It will now be forced to focus on offering inexpensive short-haul flights. Of course, there is the possibility that some exceptions could be made. WOW may still fly from Iceland to the East Coast of the United States. That route is something that is popular among travelers looking for a cheap hub that connects the United States and Europe. Customers can essentially expect that WOW will survive as a low-cost carrier that no longer offers routes to the West Coast of the United States.
The bottom line is that the list of routes that WOW Air will offer during its restructuring process has not been revealed yet. The word on the street is that a definitive list of the carrier’s new routes will be released at some point in January. The success of WOW won’t just depend on whether or not the carrier can work with Indigo Partners to come up with a successful long-term plan — oil prices will also determine just how high the carrier can soar in 2019.