Wow Air shut-down leaves passengers in the lurch

Iceland’s low cost carrier Wow Air announced on Thursday, that it had ended all operations, citing financial strain, and leaving hundreds of travelers stranded or seeking alternative travel options.

“Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been cancelled,” the budget carrier announced through its website, leaving Iceland with one airline – Icelandair.

Passengers were told to book alternative flights with other airlines, while Iceland’s air transport authority advised flyers to check with providers, adding that some cases may be eligible for compensation.

Founded in 2011 and operating cheap trans-Atlantic flights via Reykjavik, Wow Air transported some 3.5 million passengers last year to destinations such as New York, Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore.

The Icelandic airline collapsed after failed acquisition attempts by other carriers.

“This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done but the reality is that we have run out of time and have unfortunately not been able to secure the funding of the company,” Wow CEO and founder Skuli Mogensen said in a letter to some 1,000 airline employees.

Speaking to Icelandic TV, Mogensen said more than 1,000 passengers had been affected by the decision.

Wow Air did say that it may pay compensation “in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights”.

It should be noted that according to a recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling, airlines are obliged to recompense air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, even if a strike has previously been announced and on condition that the departure airport is within the EU, or that the flight is run by an EU-based carrier. Additionally, the airline should be responsible for the delay. If the airline declares bankruptcy, passengers can make a claim with the administrator or liquidator.

For more on air passenger rights go here.

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