Business Irish

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Wow Air: New service offers flights from Dublin to US starting at €149

WOW Air plans to launch flights to Boston and Washington DC from Dublin in October
WOW Air plans to launch flights to Boston and Washington DC from Dublin in October
The Wow air logo
T2 at Dublin Airport. Picture James Horan/Collins
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Icelandic carrier WOW Air plans to start selling flights to the US from as little as €149.

The low-cost airline will start flying from Dublin to Boston and Washington DC in October.

The airline plans to offer one-way fares from as little as €149 including taxes, but flyers will have to endure a two-hour layover in Reykjavik.

The airline, founded and headed by Skuli Mogensen, previously announced that it will start flying between Dublin and Iceland's capital next June.

The launch of a transatlantic service comes as the airline plots a strategy to be one of the first "true low-cost" airlines operating between Europe and the United States.

It's also launching flights to Boston in March from London's Gatwick airport, and will service Washington DC from Gatwick from June.

WOW will operate its US flights three times a week from Dublin to Reykjavik, with connecting flights on each of those three days to both Boston and Baltimore Washington International. The flights will depart Dublin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Mr Mogensen said WOW wants to make travel to the United States "affordable for everybody".

The airline will use narrow-body short-haul Airbus aircraft to fly between Dublin and Iceland and onwards to the US. But passengers won't be able to pre-clear US customs and immigration in Dublin.

"Iceland as a hub is truly unique," Mr Mogensen told the Irish Independent. "It allows me to use narrow-body aircraft. They have fewer seats, are a lot less expensive to acquire and operate. I don't have the operational risk of having 350 seats."

Mr Mogensen founded WOW Air in 2012 and has injected about $25m (€22m) of his personal fortune into the carrier, which he owns outright.

The Dublin-US service will appeal more to leisure travellers hunting for a bargain fare. A two-hour stopover in Reykjavik is likely to deter time-pressed business travellers from using the service.

As with many other no-frills carriers, WOW Air passengers will have to pay for most things on board, such as drinks and food. They'll also have to pay to put luggage in the hold. Other transatlantic carriers usually include a free bag in their ticket price for economy passengers.

WOW is capitalising on a surge in transatlantic passenger traffic out of Dublin, most of it to the United States.

Last year, 2.1 million people travelled on flights between Dublin and North America, up 14pc on 2013. The airport is actively marketing itself as a hub for US-bound passengers from the UK, and also from other countries such as Italy.

British Airways' owner IAG wants to develop Aer Lingus transatlantic traffic out of Dublin if it succeeds in acquiring the Irish airline.

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, told the Irish Independent that airlines such as WOW can have a future using Reykjavik as a hub for transatlantic traffic.

Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet will operate services between Dublin and Newfoundland again this summer, with onward connections to Toronto.

"All of these services have a future as long as they can offer it at a very low price," said Mr O'Leary.

"People are looking at the lowest cost way of getting there."

Ryanair has long had its own ambition to operate flights from Europe to the US, but any such service is still years away.

(See attached interview below)

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