WOW air uses Iceland to bridge transatlantic divide for smaller US communities

Icelandic low-fare carrier WOW air is to expand its network in the United States with the introduction of new flights from its Reykjavik hub at Keflavik International Airport to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit and St Louis during the summer 2018 schedule. None of the four destinations announced are currently served from Iceland, albeit Icelandair announced its own plans to serve Cleveland next summer earlier this week.

The expanded transatlantic network offering will open with Detroit Metropolitan Airport flights commencing from 25-Apr-2017 and followed by Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from 03-May-2017, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport from 09-May-2017 and St Louis Lambert International Airport from 17-May-2018. All will be operated four times weekly using single-aisle Airbus A321 equipment,

Having lived in the shadow of Icelandair’s effective European and North American network strategy since it launched services in 2012, WOW air has now exploded into the low-cost transatlantic market with a network that covers over 30 destinations in Europe and North America. And having grown capacity by over 90% in 2016, it expects to continue its rapid rise as the low-cost long-haul model continues to stimulate traffic across the Atlantic.

Alongside its US growth, WOW air will also expand its network in Europe with the introduction of a daily flight between Reykjavik and London Stansted from 25-Apr-2018.  This will complement its existing flights into London Gatwick in the UK capital.

MAP – Over the past five years WOW air has grown its network to over 30 destinations as it takes advantage of the growing appeal of Iceland among travellers and its location to support one-stop transatlantic connectionsSource: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and OAG

WOW air entered the North American market in March 2015 following the launch of services to Boston Logan International Airport and including next year’s new routes has expanded its network to include 12 destinations in the US and two in Canada. This year it has already added flights to Chicago, Miami and Pittsburgh.

“We are proud of our growth over the last two years and will continue to work tirelessly to provide the lowest fares possible to each region of the US,” says Skúli Mogensen, chief executive officer and founder of WOW air.

While the low-cost model has proved successful in the short-haul sector, it hasn’t easily transferred into long-haul markets, an environment that WOW air’s founder and chief executive officer Skúli Mogensen believes the carrier is well-placed to succeed.

“I believe there is a tremendous potential for low-cost travel to further stimulate demand between Europe and North America. We are not talking about taking demand from existing services, but introducing a whole new market for long-haul travel.

“We are already seeing this in the data from our existing routes into Canada and the United States, which are performing extremely well and securing very positive loads that are ahead of our ambitious targets. These flights are actually growing the market.”

European airlines are opening the door to enhanced connectivity for smaller US markets. Since the start of 2016 the four largest unserved markets without transatlantic service have all secured new flights to Europe: British Airways to New Orleans, WOW air to St Louis, Icelandair and WOW air to Cleveland and British Airways to Nashville. This now leaves Indianapolis, Kansas City, Columbus and San Antonio as the largest US markets without transatlantic flights.

CHART – Enhanced transatlantic connectivity over the past couple of years and confirmed future growth announcements means Indianapolis and Kansas City are now the largest unserved US destination from Europe.Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG