Two prospective new airlines have surfaced over the last few days in Iceland, which both intend to pick up the pieces from the now-defunct WOW Air and offer low-cost flights from Iceland to Europe and the US.
The first to be announced has the tentative working name of WAB – We are Back – and intends to fly to 14 US and European cities. Two ex-WOW executives are involved, and funding is mostly being provided by an Irish investment fund, Avianta Capital, which is owned by the daughter of one of the owners of Ryan Air, Aislinn Whittley-Ryan. You can read more about it here.
Then last night it was announced that a US company had bought most of what’s left of WOW Air, and had also requested to use the hangars previously used for WOW planes. Initially the name of the company was not revealed, but now it turns out that the company is probably Oasis Aviation Services. Like WAB, the idea is to run a low-cost airline.
Oasis specializes in transporting weapons from the US to Africa through its hub in Djibouti. Not nice! Their website calls it “Internationalist Air Cargo – Specialist in US Military Cargo”.
Oasis is owned by Michele Ballarin, a wealthy woman with links to Somalia who is also known there as Amira Ballarin, meaning Princess Ballarin. Besides breeding Lippizaner horses there, she has also been involved in many other activities, to various degrees of legality. You can read about her activities here.
Since WOW stopped flying at the end of March, tourist numbers have dropped dramatically – which is not surprising, as most people would have booked their summer holidays by then and those who had booked flights to Iceland with WOW would have had to rebook with another airline. With limited seat availability compared to the number who wanted to come, flight prices increased phenomenally and no doubt became out of reach for the average traveller. Tourist operators are worried.
Whether both airlines will eventually be flying to and from Iceland remains to be seen – I personally doubt that the market can support both of them – but I would much prefer WAB to the Oasis lot.
Update 7 September: It was announced yesterday that Ballarin’s lot will start flying from October to the USA (Washington Dulles airport), under the trade name WOW. Later they will fly to other cities.