As WOW Air transitions to a cargo airline and PLAY seeks to be the latest low-cost upstart, one has to wonder just what is going on with Icelandic aviation. Let the guessing game begin.
Introducing PLAY: A New Low-Cost-Carrier to Iceland
Here’s what we know so far about PLAY:
- PLAY was built by a group of former WOW Air executives
- The CEO of PLAY is Arnar Már Magnusson, the former Vice President of Operations at WOW Air
- PLAY will utilize Airbus A321 aircraft, with two to start, six by the summer of 2020, and ten by 2022
- PLAY initially serve destinations across Europe, but add service to North America in spring 2020
- The website, www.flyplay.com, is now live
- Ticket sales will begin later this month
No details on pricing, seating configuration, onboard service, or specific destinations have been announced.
PLAY Ticket Giveaway
PLAY pledges to give away 1,000 tickets, so stay tuned for potential news on that front. You might want to add yourself to the email mailing list.
WOW Air Will Focus On Cargo
Meanwhile, the resurrected WOW Air will offer cargo service between Keflavík International Airport and Washington Dulles. That’s right, the airline that originally promised “Michelin star food” onboard and lounges for everyone is now just going to fly freight.
At least for now…passenger service is promised. Eventually. At some unspecified point.
What To Make Of WOW Air + PLAY
Iceland is hurting for another budget carrier. When WOW collapsed, it wasn’t just airline employees that were negatively impacted, but the entire country. WOW brought in tourists, who spent money in restaurants, hotels, and on leisure activities. That created a supply chain need; the whole macroeconomic multiplier effect. Iceland’s economy will likely contract by 0.4% this year, even though it was originally estimated to grow 1.8%. The culprit is the collapse of WOW Air.
It is not clear why WOW Air collapsed. Obviously, it collapsed because it ran out of money, but it remains debatable whether the problem was the business model itself or simply an ambitious over-expansion, particularly in the acquisition of A330 widebody airliners.
All this creates room–or at least hope–that a new airline can learn from the mistakes of WOW Air while capitalizing on an under-served market in a nation that relies upon such an airline for economic growth.
You cannot look at WOW Air or PLAY without looking at the greater situation in Iceland. It would not surprise me to see some sort of government incentive to get one or both carriers to actually start passenger service.
Consumers from both sides of the Atlantic should hope that WOW Air and PLAY actually start service. In addition to Norwegian Air, such carriers put downward pressure on legacy airline pricing. It may be that such carriers simply are unsustainable. Time will tell. But at least in the short-term, I am rooting for both WOW Air and PLAY.