As WOW air announces new Toronto and Montreal services to Iceland, CT talks to the airline’s founder, CEO and sole owner, Skuli Mogensen.
Photo courtesy WOW air
Tell us about WOW air…
I founded the airline in November 2011. Since its inaugural flight in 2012, WOW air has grown rapidly and the airline reached an important milestone in December 2014 when it flew its one millionth passenger.
We estimate that 800,000 passengers will fly with WOW air in 2015. We are Iceland’s only low-cost airline and we are able to offer travel at such low rates because we are very cost conscious. By reducing all unnecessary expenses, we can continue to offer these great prices.
As of spring, the airline serviced 20 destinations across Europe and North America including London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Washington DC and Boston. Total passenger numbers for June to August this year were up a massive 45 percent on the previous year with 295,000 passengers. Passenger loads across all services averaged 95 percent in July.
Tell us about the new routes?
Our expansion into the Canadian market follows the successful launch of transatlantic services from Boston and Washington DC in early 2015. Both services now operate with consistent carrier loads of more than 90 percent.
Now, we are announcing direct flights between Iceland and Toronto, and between Iceland and Montréal, as well as connecting Montréal and Toronto to a number of great cities in Europe. We are offering fares that have never been seen before in these markets, with flights from Canada to Iceland for as little as $99, and then offering connections to other European cities from $149. The first flight will be in spring 2016 and tickets go on sale soon.
Why is the airline entering the Canadian market now?
The low-cost model has proven to be successful both domestically in Europe and internationally with the addition of our North American destinations. As a result, we are convinced that Canadians will welcome this low-cost travel option in the same way that Boston and Washington have.
Additionally, the airline’s entry into the Canadian market is expected to create an estimated 100 jobs in the travel sector and represents an investment of $60 million for the two routes.
Why is the Canadian market important to WOW?
I think that prices from Canada to Europe, including to Iceland, have been unnecessarily expensive. That’s why I’m thrilled to be announcing these new routes at lower prices, making travel to and from Europe affordable for everyone.
The Icelandic people feel a special affinity for Canada and on a personal level, I feel a special connection to the country. I lived and worked in Montréal for eight years, and during that time I learned to really love and appreciate the country, its people and its culture. I know firsthand that there is a lot to see and explore in Canada. That’s why I feel it’s important to understand that we’re not only flying from Canada; we’re also flying to Canada.
Any hot sales tips?
Our flights will start at $99 to Iceland from Toronto and Montréal. We have seen that wherever we enter the market, we have offered prices, which are up to 30 and 40 percent lower than what has previously been available. Of course, by doing this we have enabled more people to travel, and more people to fly more often.
What can you see in the future for WOW?
We have just had our best summer ever and, with these new routes launching in May 2016, next summer is another chance to break records. These great Canadian cities will become our newest destinations and I look forward to announcing even more in the not-too-distant future! Next, we will add more travel destinations in both North America and Europe.