When the Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW closed its doors, the avgeek world lamented the loss of one of the cheapest methods of getting between North America and Europe. Almost a year on, and there’s still no replacement for the purple people mover, despite a lot of noise to the contrary. The most positive signs of a revival have come from Icelandic startup PLAY, but what’s happened so far?
The many faces of WOW mkII
First, we had WAB, then we had WOW Air 2.0. Indeed, an American investor named Ballarin bought all of WOW’s remaining assets, branding, tools and paraphernalia with a plan to launch a fish-based airline to fly from Iceland to Washington. So far, we’ve seen nothing of the alleged airline, although it did open a café in DC earlier this month.
Back to WAB, which you must realize is a completely separate thing from WOW 2.0. Rather than overly optimistic US entrepreneurs, WAB was headed up by two of WOW’s former directors and promised a relaunch of a similar LCC with a familiar operating model.
Way back when we first reported the news, WAB thought things could be up and running by the autumn. Although that hasn’t happened, things have indeed moved on. In November, the name and branding of this WOW revival was unveiled. And it shall be called PLAY.
Sporting a livery just as sunglasses inducing as WOW, PLAY promised to fly both east and west from Iceland, although with a view to focusing on European routes first. It planned to start with a couple of Airbus A321s, and hoped to grow to six by the spring. Only then, it said, would it begin looking at routes to the US.
The new company outlined its aims and mission as:
“PLAY is a new Low Cost Airline operating to and from Iceland. PLAY will provide affordable travel in new Airbus aircraft. PLAY is in everything we do, with professionalism at the core. At PLAY, safety comes first, with our core principles being on-time performance, simplicity, happiness and low prices.”
Headed up by Arnar Már Magnusson as CEO, a previous employee of WOW air, he is joined in the leadership pool by Þóroddur Ari who is co-owner and Sveinn Ingi who will be CFO. At the reveal of the name and branding, the airline said it would begin selling tickets by the end of November.
What’s happening now?
Back in December, the airline noted that we would have to wait a little longer for tickets to go on sale. It was not known at the time what the reason for the delay was, but it could have been linked to the company’s search for equity financing. The airline required some $14m of investment, according to local media.
While we haven’t heard whether the required funding has been secured, the airline continues to press forward in its mission to start services. Just last week, it maintained a very positive attitude when asked about service launch on Facebook:
What we do know, thanks to not-so-subtle hints on the official Facebook page and a leak from Kjarninn, are the initial destinations for the airline. When PLAY launches, we’re hoping to see it in six European cities: Alicante, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Paris and Tenerife.
As for when this will happen, your guess is as good as mine. I’ve got everything crossed for the summer 2020 season so we can check out this new carrier for ourselves.