WOW air Scraps Some Chicago Flights Amid Financial Freefall

WOW air December

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UPDATE: Apparently these Chicago cancellations are just the tip of the iceberg. WOW air has announced it is halving its fleet, including getting rid of all the planes it uses for long-haul international flights. The airline says it will start canceling routes in January, though it isn’t clear which routes will be on the chopping block. WOW air says it will contact passengers booked on any routes that will be canceled.



WOW air might have a buyer after Icelandair backed out earlier this month. But that doesn’t mean everything is grand with the budget airline.

The Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier grew ultra fast, opening up more than a dozen routes between U.S. cities and its Reykjavik (KEF) hub, and onward to Europe with dirt cheap fares. But it wasn’t sustainable, and WOW is now just a shadow of its former self after cutting many routes.

The most recent victim appears to be its service from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). While there’s no official announcement, One Mile at a Time reports that all of the airline’s flights from Jan. 21 through March 31 are “sold out.” Given WOW’s struggles, it’s hard to believe this is anything other than at least a temporary cancellation.


WOW Air Chicago


This would be just the latest amid a staggering string of route cuts for the suffering airline. With ORD and other airports out of the fold, WOW has just five U.S. gateways left.

The airline is scrapping flights from Cincinnati (CVG), Cleveland (CLE), and St. Louis (STL) just a few months after launching them. It’s canceling flights from Pittsburgh (PIT) and reducing service from several other cities. It also canned flights from both New York City-JFK (JFK) and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)

Part of the problem may be simple logistics: WOW no longer has enough planes to carry its passengers. In the thick of its financial woes, WOW air returned four of its leased planes to their owners. That’s a sizable portion of the airline’s fleet, and included two Airbus A330s that the airline needs to make long-haul flights feasible.

Despite this turmoil, WOW still launched flights to New Delhi, India (DEL) last week.

Our Analysis 

The purchase of WOW air can’t come through fast enough.

After Icelandair backed out of its takeover bid, Indigo Partners stepped forward with an offer. The private equity firm owns Frontier Airlines, has stakes in other budget carriers across the globe like Hungary’s Wizz Air, and played a major role in making Spirit Air – love it or hate it – what it is today.

But it may still fall apart. Indigo Partners could decide WOW air is beyond saving as it examines the company.

So if you’re booked on WOW air in the coming months, keep an eye on this story – if your route hasn’t been canceled already.


Bottom Line

WOW air’s downward spiral continues. The airline needs some serious help in order to stay afloat, and it feels like a race to the finish before a takeover deal wraps up or WOW air disappears altogether.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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