Icelandic airline Wow Air collapses and cancels all flights

Key Points
  • Wow Air's first flights took off in 2012.
  • The airline has now collapsed, telling customers that all flights are canceled.
  • Passengers are told to go looking for “rescue fares” from rival airlines.
Iceland's low-cost airline Wow Air just collapsed
Iceland's low-cost airline Wow Air just collapsed

Iceland's low cost carrier Wow Air has canceled all flights and told passengers to book with other airlines.

Its website has a travel alert that begins: "Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been canceled."

The alert said people who wanted to travel should now look for "so-called rescue fares" which may now be offered by rival airlines.

Wow added that those who made bookings by credit card or via a European travel agent should try to get their money back through those businesses. It said some passengers may be entitled to compensation from the airline itself.

In November, it was announced that Icelandair Group, the holding company of rival carrier Icelandair, would acquire the entire share capital of Wow Air but that proposal fell apart within weeks.

Further talks between the two airlines ended Sunday.

Founded by chief executive Skuli Mogensen, Wow Air took off for the first time in 2012.

The carrier employed more than 1,000 people by 2018 and in the same year carried around 3.5 million passengers in its 11 aircraft.

Here's what it's like to fly to Iceland on WOW Air
What it's like to fly to Iceland on WOW Air

The company's model was to entice passengers with ultra-low prices before slapping on extra charges for seat selection, baggage, leg room and expensive refreshments. A typical base fare for a Wow flight from the U.S. to Europe could come in at less than $200.

A fall in tourist visits to Iceland and rising fuel costs had been cited as headwinds to profitability.

The airline had also suffered poor customer reviews and was particularly criticized over recurring delays.

Mogensen told CNBC in June that it was "obviously in our interest" to fix the problems.

The carrier had operated services between Iceland, Europe and North America. It flew both short and long-haul routes, flying to places such as Washington, New York, Boston, Copenhagen, Warsaw and Alicante, Spain.