WOW Air, the struggling Icelandic carrier known for its bargain fares to Europe, plans to shrink dramatically in a bid to survive.
The airline, which offered a 50 percent-off sale just days ago, said in a statement Thursday that it is reducing its fleet from 20 to 11 aircraft. The airline had already said four of the planes were going back.
WOW now says it will return all four of its widebody Airbus A330s, planes that are used on some WOW flights between the US and Europe and on its just-launched service to India. And it is selling four Airbus A321s for $10 million to raise badly needed cash.
The move means many travelers holding tickets on WOW for travel in January and beyond won’t be making the trip, on WOW at least. WOW’s U.S. destinations include Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Orlando, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
The airline is not saying where flights will be cut. It only said there will be no changes to its schedule in December and early January, which is good news for holiday travelers.
The airline said it will announce a new flight schedule in January but did not provide any details. WOW said it will notify affected passengers.
“After a challenging year, WOW air is now restructuring and simplifying its operations to return to its roots as a profitable ultra-low cost airline, while discussions with Indigo Partners progress,” WOW said in a statement.
WOW has been in talks with Phoenix-based Indigo Partners about an undisclosed investment in the airline, and the shrinking is seen as a precursor to any deal. A planned merger between WOW and fellow Icelandic carrier Icelandair fell through in late November. Indigo, led by former America West Airlines CEO Bill Franke, owns Frontier Airlines and used to own fellow discounter Spirit Airlines.
The airline said it has also laid off 111 employees and is not renewing contractors and temporary workers.
“This is the most difficult day in the history of WOW Air,”” CEO Skuli Mogensen said in a statement. “We have dedicated people who have worked hard to make WOW Air a reality and it breaks my heart to downsize the company. However, in order to ensure our future and preserve WOW Air in the long run, we unfortunately must take these drastic measures.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Due to fly WOW Air next year? Your trip might be canceled
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