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CEO Skuli Mogensen pictured in better times (photo: WOW air)

WOW air to slash staff and fleet

“This is the most difficult day in the history of WOW air,” the airline’s chief executive Skuli Mogensen admits.

Iceland’s troubled low-cost carrier WOW air says it will be “returning to its roots” as an ultra-low-cost airline, cutting the size of its fleet and sacking more than a hundred employees.

The employees soon to be without a job are 111 full-time staff, but altogether the carrier is laying lay off 350 people, as the company will not be extending contractors and short-term staff contracts, according to Reykjavík-based news site Iceland Monitor.

The company will be left with around a thousand employees in total following the cuts.

In November, 237 employees of Airport Associates, a ground handling service firm with headquarters at Keflavik Airport, were also made redundant in connection with WOW when the merger with Icelandair was cancelled, news reports say.

The airline, which is still in discussions with Indigo Partners about possible investment, will shrink its fleet from 20 planes to 11, returning four Airbus A321s and its single A330 to lessors. It flies the A330, for example, on its San Francisco and Los Angeles routes and had been intending it for the new route to India.

Four A321s are also being sold, which WOW says will help its liquidity by more than US$10 million.

The airline says it hopes to offer sacked employees “a future employment opportunity”.

Hard day
From January, a new and reduced flight schedule will be introduced, a company statement says, and the airline is now contacting passengers who have bookings on the flights that will be cut.

“This is the most difficult day in the history of WOW air,” the airline’s chief executive Skuli Mogensen admitted. “We have dedicated people who have worked hard to make WOW air a reality and it breaks my heart to downsize the company.”

He added: “However, in order to ensure our future and preserve WOW air in the long run, we unfortunately must take these drastic measures.”

“Check back and see if you booked with a credit card that offers travel protections,” the US-based airline news site The Points Guy advises. “In what feels like a slow-moving, but nonetheless inevitable, collapse of an airline, the splashy low-cost carrier that helped fuel Iceland’s tourism boom is resorting to drastic measures just to stay afloat.”

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