Wow Air to decide on Dublin hub
Wow Air will make a decision by the summer on whether it will pick Dublin as its first base outside its home market of Iceland.
The low-cost airline - which will carry about three million passengers this year - has been evaluating a possible new hub for over a year.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Wow Air chief executive Skúli Mogensen said the shortlist for the new base has been whittled down to three possible candidates, including Dublin. He declined to say what other airports are being considered.
Mr Mogensen said that congestion at Dublin Airport is an issue that will affect the final decision.
Wow would probably base two or three jets initially at a new hub and Mr Mogensen said a second base could have as many as 17 aircraft within five years. The aircraft would be long-range jets such as the Airbus A330, Airbus A321neo or Airbus A321LR.
Wow Air - which would have to apply for an Irish Air Operator's Certificate to have a base at Dublin - would most likely use the capital to serve routes in North America.
But Mr Mogensen didn't rule out the possibility that routes to Asia could also be a likelihood, feeding passengers via Dublin from other European cities.
"Dublin is a contender," he said. "I hope to make that decision by the summer and hopefully we can initiate something by next year.
"I like Dublin for a number of reasons. It has preclearance to the United States. It's a well-known hub of air expertise. The airport has grown a lot, so there's a lot of incoming traffic.
"It's close to Iceland, so that makes it easier from an operational point of view."
But Mr Mogensen added that Dublin Airport is getting "very congested".
"That's an issue. It's the same in Iceland. Keflavík Airport (in Reykjavik) is getting totally congested and that's one of the reasons why I have to look outside of Iceland. Unless I'm going to accept the status quo, which I can't, then I might as well retire."
Asked if Wow Air would consider operating flights from a new Dublin hub outside the traditional morning arrivals and departures for transatlantic services, Mr Mogensen said he is looking at "all angles".
Wow Air launched flights from Dublin to Reykjavik two years ago, connecting passengers to onward destinations in the United States. There's usually about a 65 to 90-minute layover in Reykjavik.
Wow is also starting flights from Cork this May, potentially pitting it against Norwegian Air International.
Wow's model is aimed at connecting passengers to US-bound flights from Iceland.
It has no frills such as wifi, and like other low-cost operators, passengers must pay for extras such as food, even on long-haul flights to destinations including Los Angeles and San Francisco.