WOW air: Is it the End of the Purple Plane Era?

WOW air’s purple WOW logo

WOW air , the notorious low cost Icelandic carrier that offers as low to $129 one way to Europe from the United States, could possibly cease service by the summer of 2019. The airline has been in a financial crisis ever since the summer of 2018 with passenger percentages dropping so low that the airline had to cease service to three United States Cities. But how did it get here? Well we will have to go back to the start to WOW air to find the answer.

WOW air’s CEO, Skúli Morgensen, with TF-MOM, a Airbus A321-200

WOW air: The History

WOW air was formed in the fall of 2011 by entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen, who has a extensive background in technology and telecoms in Iceland, North America, and Europe. WOW air’s inaugural flight was back in May of 2012 from Reykjavík to Paris on a A321-200. In October of the same year, WOW took over the flight operations of Iceland Express. A year later WOW air was WOW air was awarded the Air Operator‘s Certificate (AOC) by the Icelandic Transport Authority. WOW air became the airline to fly with bottom low prices across the Atlantic going as low as $129USD. WOW air was cruising with millions of passengers chosing WOW over Icelandair, who is the flagship carrier of Iceland. In November of 2014, WOW air hit the milestone of its 1 millionth passenger, which is a sky high achievement especially for a Icelandic carrier. In 2017, WOW air seemed to make a serious statement to Icelandair, as WOW carried 2.8 million passengers, 1.2 million short to Icelandair. With WOW air expected to fly up to 4 million passengers in 2018, everything seemed extremely well for WOW air. But it wasn’t.

2018: a Icelandic Nightmare

WOW air had extremely high expectations for the summer of 2018, adding numerous seasonal destinations including New York, San Francisco, and Brussels. WOW even doubled service to high markets like Boston and Baltimore. Like stated above, WOW air looked very good going into the summer, but it wasn’t. Cheap European competition like Condor and Norwegian offered very low prices just like WOW, but without a stop in Iceland. More people want to fly nonstop and pay just a little more than have a 5 hour layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. And believe it or not, Icelandic was not struggling, as more passengers chose Icelandair to fly to Iceland over WOW air. WOW air did not even come close to their projected summer passenger count. With this, WOW air did not create enough revenue and filed a finance crisis.

A Picture of WOW air’s economy cabin onboard a Airbus A330

The Result

With passenger counts to a all-time low and in a financial crisis, WOW air was forced to stop almost all seasonal service early and in October of 2018, WOW made the decision to back out of three North American cities including Cincinnati and Cleveland. WOW air also cut its purple fleet by 20%. After this, there seemed absolutely no hope for WOW air. But then a unexpected airline came in to help.

Icelandair tries to save WOW air

In early November, Icelandair, WOW air biggest rival and competitor, announced that they have acquired WOW. Icelandair said that WOW air would continue its own program, but would be under Icelandair. Everything seems very good for both airlines. Icelandair would eliminate its competition and WOW air would stay in service. Everything is going WOW air’s way right? It was until the 4 of December when Icelandair announced that they would back out of the purchase of WOW leaving WOW on its own. With the financial crisis still in great effect and fuel prices climbing like never before, WOW stopped service in 4 more aircraft.

image A short of Icelandair and WOW air’s tails at Reykjavik, Iceland

What is the future of the Purple Plane airline?

The future for WOW air is very unclear and unpredictable. With Icelandair renforecing top stop in Iceland air travel, and European low cost carriers stealing the spotlight for European travel, it really seems WOW air is doomed. There is tons of speculation that another airline is trying to swoop up WOW air just like what Icelandair tries to do. I personally think with the current state of WOW air, and competition just to high for WOW, the airline will cease operation by the summer of 2019. Tell me what you think down below. What are your thoughts with the situation at WOW air right now?

WOW air’s most common aircraft in the their fleet, the A321

Will WOW air stay open by the year of 2020?

  • Yes they will!
  • They will be bought by another airline
  • The will be gone by then

0 voters

Thank you for taking your time and reading this article I have made for the community. Have a fantastic day!



Source 1: WOW air

Source 2:

Souce 3: Icelandair Buys Low-Cost Pioneer WOW Air

Souce 4: Flying Since 1937 | Icelandair

Picture 1:

Picture 2: WOW air

Picture 3: Flight Review: WOW Air (A330) Economy From San Francisco to Reykjavik - The Points Guy

Picture 4: Icelandair Group's acquisition of WOW air cancelled - Iceland Monitor

Picture 5:


When the airline announced flights to St. Louis where I live, I was very surprised they chose to operate in the Midwest’s least known cities to the world. In the other hand, I was very excited because I’d have cheap flights to Europe, I wouldn’t mind making a stopover in Iceland. Now that the flights will be terminated by January of next year, it made me to rethink my plans for trips to Europe and let me concern about the airline’s financial status, I knew however that everything that’s not Chicago in the Midwest wouldn’t be very profitable.

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It’s gonna be a real shame if WOW Air doesn’t survive. They are the only airline offering non-stop flights from LAX. Was kinda hoping Icelandair would buy them out and acquire their fleet (which is fairly new). The wifey and I flew WOW Air this past summer and have already booked a trip for next summer. Now I’m worried. Good thing we have trip insurance! But my fingers are crossed that they survive or at least survive until the fall.


It would be sad to see my favorite Isceland Airline ceasing operations :( along with my favorite VA WOW Virtual #PrayforWOW

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WOW this is sad :(

Hopefully the airline finds some way to recover, but for now, I don’t see how WOW could carry on like this.


I know you might appreciate some insight from a fellow Marylander @Plane-Train-TV,
WOW operates the the increasingly-popular ULCC Transatlantic market. The ULCC transatlantic business model has come up in the past few years, and the reason for that I believe is the low fuel prices, but as one may know, the price of fuel is very volatile, so with shifts in operating costs I think that we will see the Trans-Atl ULCC market get pared down, at the very least. However, there really is a big under-developed market in the way of ULCC/LCC Trans-Atl, but the “expand super fast and then keep the routes that work” business model has proven to be short-lived and unsuccessful.
Anyways, I do think that WOW unfortunately will not be around any longer by 2020, or maybe just very reduced in size.

They have potential but in order to function they should change things up. They should slightly increase prices internationally especially to N America. In business cheap isn’t always better especially with their limited fleet size. They could offer sight seeing flights around Iceland for a cheaper price and offer flights to Europe at a certain price.

Flew wow this past February to Iceland and with their flights all being pay for what you want, it’s no surprise ridership on the airline has been low. My parents during the car ride back home from Newark said if we were to take a vacation back to Iceland again they would rather fly British Airways across the Atlantic and take a connecting flight on over to Iceland rather than fly wow direct. The airline business has been tough recently with airlines such as Wow and Flybe simply fighting to survive. While I didn’t really have the best experiences aboard Wow I hope them the best.

Well written article thanks

I’m suspecting that it might be a Lufthansa Group style arrangement, with WOW operating routes Icelandair doesn’t.


I sure hope so! Considering WOW Air has several a330s and several new a321 neos, it would be a great addition to Icelandair’s 757s.


It has been only two weeks since I have posted this article and well, things only seems to get worse for the Icelandic Airline. Here is the latest news on WOW air:

WOW air says goodbye to 350

WOW air has officially layed off 350 workers this past Wednesday. Within the 350 layed off, 111 full time staff were fired. This alone is extremely worrisome. It is extremely clear that there is a huge financial issue that WOW is currently facing.

WOW cuts the purple fleet by half

You most definitely read that one right! WOW air has announced that they will be only having 11 aircraft in service starting very soon. According to USA Today, WOW is currently selling four Airbus A321’s for about $10 million each. They have also loaned a A321 (TF-MOM) to a Caribbean carrier.

No more Wide Bodies

On top of selling 4 A321’s for rock bottom prices, WOW air is also returning all four of its A330’s to Airbus. With this, WOW air will most likely not be able to continue one of its most popular routes, Los Angeles to Reykjavik. This brings me to my next topic…

WOW plans to cut even more

WOW air will be most definitely leaving Chicago for dead when it recently announced that Chicago is the next city to go for WOW. This comes to a shock to O’hare as Icelandic travel has seen a huge increase this last month. The only Icelandic airline to fly to Chicago will be Icelandair. WOW air has also rumored that it will be dropping all California and Texas flights. This is due to the recent returning of the A330, mentioned in the catagory above.

Half off flights

This past couple days WOW air cut all there flight fares by 50% attempting to find revenue every which way. This might look very good to the passenger, but to us (the avgeeks), it looks like a desperate call for help.

Is it the end?

With all this happening, it really seems like the true end for WOW air. From laying off workers to selling their fleet, WOW seems like it is going through some terrible recent days. The CEO has mentioned that he has been heartbroken and hopes to see better with WOW. So, that brings up another huge question. Is there hope? Well, actually, yes! An Indian airline has shown interest in purchasing the airline. The only worry is, that, they will drop out just like Icelandair did last September. The future seems really unpredictable at this current time but there is hope. Only time will tell…



Cutting back this much is really alarming for the airline in many aspects, but most certainly economically. At this point it is safe to say that they are in a dire situation of Life or Death…

I do for once do not look at something optimistically. This time around, I’ve for the first time in a very long time have high doubts for their survival. I do hope a different airline, most likely Icelandair does purchase WOW Air but if that doesn’t go as planned, we might as well have to say our Farewell to WOW and their amazing serivce.

Low Costs, Outstanding Performance in the ever growing market of passengers wanting move from Point A to B and vise-versa.


I still strongly believe that KPIT will be one of their last holdouts, till next year when I think BA May be the final straw in the camels back for them at KPIT…

January Update:

WOW air is barely holding causing them to make one of the biggest cuts in airline history. WOW air is on the verge of disappearing for good.

4 US Destinations Left

WOW air announced that they will be cutting service everywhere except Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, and Newark. This is a huge sign of the true end to the purple airline as they only have limited destinations left. All these flights will be on the A321-200 Aircraft as they have either sold or loaned the rest of their fleet.

The Reykjavik Bare Fare

With all these crazy cuts, WOW air will be selling a record-low fate of just $49 one way. This is cheaper than cheap.

WOW will disappear when?

WOW air is doing everything in their power to stay alive but unfortunately that are slowly slipping away. It is to hard to predict the future of WOW air, but it is almost certain a comeback is near impossible.



When do those cuts happen? I’m practically in tears right now, that’s a big lose for KPIT…

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It’s ok they still fly to KBWI (for now). Sorry they lost Pittsburgh I guess it doesn’t matter how well they did there, because KPIT wasn’t doing bad for WOW.
The end of WOW is just about inevitable now :-(

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I agree. I don’t think a miracle will happen. Unfortunately, the era of purple is very soon, if not maybe early June or earlier. As much as no one wants them to go away, at the end of the day their still losing a lot of money.

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Wait, what about the IndiGo Firm ? They have announced all of the details about the “Potential Partnership”
They stated IndiGo will most likely buy a 49% stake in the company

They ditched KPIT, they can die in fire for all I care… 😂

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