Want to fly on the relaunched WOW Air? Better grow gills. And be dead. The company now expects to relaunch as a cargo operator rather than a passenger carrier, assuming it ever gets off the ground at all.
The latest news came about this week after the company indicated the preparations were “more time consuming than anticipated for a number of undisclosed reasons.” It remains unclear whose expectations that anticipation was based on; most industry observers watching the company’s efforts have been far more skeptical about its odds for success and especially the rapid return to the skies.
Most recently the company expected to return to passenger service at the middle of October. That deadline came and went, with no indication of which passenger aircraft would be used or who would operate them. Plus no gate space at the airports at either end and no systems in place to sell the fares, despite the assets purchase reportedly including WOW’s old systems for such. At least the website no longer returns security errors, so some progress has been made. Though it also just shows the old logo, with no further indication of the return to service visible.
We are committed to build on that platform to enable passengers to once again enjoy the experience that WOW created.– Michele Ballarin, chairman of USAerospace Associates LLC
New owner Michele Ballarin was always clear that her background was in cargo shipments, though the success of those prior efforts remains unclear. But she also was keen to see passenger service resume, in part for her love of the crewmember uniforms (and their physical appearance) and hoping to bring that aspect of the operation back to the skies. Reverting to a cargo-only service makes it easier to get flights in the air, but there are two major questions about translating that into an eventual passenger operation.
First, dedicated cargo flights typically run on dedicated cargo configured aircraft. Carrying only half the potential capacity makes for a very inefficient operation. Transitioning from cargo planes to passenger planes with some belly cargo space would be a significant amount of work and requires different certifications from regulators. Even just using the same planes for the alternate purpose would be a mess of logistics and paperwork to switch over.
Second, the problems around limited demand for such services remain. IATA data suggests cargo demand and yields are shrinking as capacity growth continues to outstrip shipments. Launching a cargo operation as the market is collapsing is a questionable move. Even with a potentially niche segment to exploit it remains unclear what the true potential is.
More WOW Air Drama:
- Airbus launches A321LR test flight program
- Icelandair kills off premium economy offering
- Icelandair comes up short on revenue, loses its CEO
- Icelandair gobbles up WOW
- WOW wins as it faces mounting troubles
- WOW loses Icelandair as suitor and savior, future uncertain
- Indigo walks from WOW Air
- Icelandair walks away from WOW. Again.
- WOW Air halts operations; all flights canceled
- WOW Air is Dead; Long Live WAB Air
- WOW Air assets sold to investors
- The bizarre backing behind WOW Air, redux
- Trying to make sense of the new WOW Air plans
- WOW Air II pivots to cargo
- Come PLAY in Iceland: Another new airline launches in the wake of WOW Air