In March, WOW Air ceased operations after a long, tedious and public financial struggle. The question of how the tourism industry would handle the closure lingered in the air, with many expecting the industry to take a heavy blow. However, while the number of people who flew into the country dropped, the money they spent stayed about the same. In short, the tourism industry is fine.
In July, a new budget airline called WAB (“We Are Back”) announced its arrival with a little help from an overseas investment. That same month, Michele Ballarin began negotiating to purchase the assets of the defunct WOW Air. With a little help from public relations officer Gunnar Steinn Pálsson, she managed to do just that. Shortly after finalising the purchase, she made a series of lofty promises, including a passenger lounge for guests flying coach, and an in-flight menu prepared by a Michelin-Starred chef.
Four months later, WAB has changed its name to Play, and Michele Ballarin is still traveling back and forth between Iceland and The States. She is still promising to start passenger flights with WOW Air within the next few weeks. Ballarin and her team have been making these promises since September. As of now, the purple airline is focused on shipping fish and other cargo, although the public relations manager of the company promises that they will begin flying passengers before the high season begins. Their website still has the old purple logo on display, and nothing else to indicate that they are moving forward with sales of passenger tickets anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Play has announced a 1,000 ticket giveaway. They are also hiring. According to their website, “We are building a great team with a unique atmosphere. We want to add optimistic and powerful people who want to change the course of aviation.” As far as which airline is most likely to succeed, the odds look like they’re in Play’s favour.
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