Editorial: The Race For A New Airline - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Editorial: The Race For A New Airline

Editorial: The Race For A New Airline

Published September 13, 2019

Valur Grettisson

Iceland is still trying to recover from the very expected bankruptcy of WOW air earlier this year. The summer high season for tourism is drawing to a close and the data is starting to trickle in.. And it’s mixed. A report released by Arion Bank this month shows in black and white the impact that WOW’s fall had on the tourism sector. There has been a 17% reduction of tourists to Iceland in just four months.

At the same time, the figures show that tourist that still choose to come to Iceland are spending more money than ever before. Perhaps that’s not a surprise, as WOW Air was offering such low-cost airfare that they were practically paying bargain-hunting passengers to fly with them. No wonder they crashed right on the nose in April and filed for bankruptcy after a tedious and very public financial struggle.

Analysts think Iceland’s tourism numbers will rebound, but slowly—a 2% increase in tourists is forecasted for next year, so our troubles are far from over.

In this odd landscape, we have seen ambitious plans to restore the fallen airline. The most promising replacement now is probably WAB Air, which is run by former key staff from WOW Air. The other possibility is a little more dubious, with the arms dealer formerly known as Michele Ballarin, who bought up all WOW’s assets and is aiming to be up and running in October.

We say “good luck,” but hope at the same time that financiers and CEOs approach this market with much more restraint and caution than their predecessors—one bad apple means a lot of people losing their jobs, and even affecting the whole economy in a way that no one can afford.

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