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Icelandair calls off purchase of Wow Air; Pittsburgh flight in jeopardy

November 30, 2018

Icelandair calls off purchase of Wow Air; Pittsburgh flight in jeopardy

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Icelandair has called off its purchase of competitor Wow Air, leaving the Icelandic-aviation industry in turmoil.

Both carriers this year launched new service from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland, though Wow canceled its route last month. Icelandair suspended its Cleveland service in October, with plans to resume the flights in May.

The two carriers, which both use Reykjavik as a stopover to dozens of destinations in Europe, have been fierce competitors in recent years, expanding rapidly in the United States. Both airlines have experienced significant financial stress this year, partly as a result of the competition, increasing fuel costs and other factors.

Earlier this month, Icelandair announced its intention to buy Wow, contingent on the completion of several conditions, which apparently did not occur.

“The planned acquisition of Icelandair Group of Wow air will not go through. The Board of Directors and management of both companies have worked on this project in earnest. This conclusion is certainly disappointing,” said Bogi Nils Bogason, interim president and CEO of Icelandair Group, in a press release.

The development leaves the future of Wow up in the air.

The airline this week sent four of its planes into storage “in cooperation with lessors,” according to a spokeswoman. As a result, several routes, including service from Pittsburgh to Reykjavik, are in jeopardy.

The Pittsburgh route, which is year-round, has been suspended starting Jan. 12. Wow spokeswoman Anna Romano said the airline has not canceled the Pittsburgh route. But the fleet reduction forced some “necessary restructuring.”

“The winter schedule is currently under re-evaluation due to changes in Wow Air’s fleet, but nothing has been finalized,” she said.

Pittsburgh service started in 2017, a year before Wow launched in Cleveland. In addition to canceling Cleveland service last month, Wow also eliminated routes from Cincinnati and St. Louis.

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