Since there has been a lot written here about the collapse of WOW, I think that some people might find this interesting.
I read it the other day. It just goes to show how much accessibility and direct flights and a model that essentially funnels people through using free stopovers and budget fares has such an outsize force on tourism to rather remote places. If Iceland does indeed have a boom/ bust economy built on tourism, it's probably best that they diversify a bit more. Tourism is a two-edged sword. The business model for WOW and Norwegian has not proven to be sustainable in the long run. Norwegian is pruning its network as we speak to keep afloat, we'll have to see what happens to them.
If Iceland does indeed have a boom/ bust economy built on tourism, it's probably best that they diversify a bit more.
That was my first reaction, but then I thought: With what?
My city wasn't served by WOW, but the times I flew through Keflavik it seemed Icelandair was a larger airline by multiples. So not sure why WOW's disappearance made such a difference, unless most of its passengers did not transit Iceland for somewhere else.
This article speculates that lack of interest in making repeat visits is part of the downturn. https://simpleflying.com/iceland-transit-passengers-down/
So not sure why WOW's disappearance made such a difference
WOW was only one of 2 airlines that had direct flights from major US airline markets (NY, LA, Chicago, DC Region), so of course it would have an impact on the tourism traffic once those suddenly disappeared. Plus all those WOW employees are now unemployed.
As far as diversification, they have a very well-educated and young but very small population. They've been relying on fishing (cod), aluminum smelting (done by the only immigrants to Iceland) and tourism. They tried some risky banking products but those led to their fiasco in 2008. They have a great music and cultural scene but it's largely local. They excel at using geothermal energy but they are very uniquely situated to take advantage in that - I don't know what byproducts are feasible. Their largest trading partner is probably the UK, if I had to guess.
WOW was only one of 2 airlines that had direct flights from major US airline markets (NY, LA, Chicago, DC Region)
Not sure this is true, Delta, United, and Icelandair fly from the NY area (seasonally). MSP also has 2 airlines currently flying to Icleand, but not a "major market."
I just didn't see that many of the WOW planes, like no more than 20% of the planes discharging passengers at Keflavik were WOW. Icelandair was a huge operation by comparison. As a gross comparison, in 2018 Icelandair had 36 planes, WOW had 10.
Norwegian is pruning its network as we speak to keep afloat, we'll have to see what happens to them.
Yeah it sucks they pulled out of the Chicago to London or Barcelona operations
I agree that the demise of WOW caused a dip in tourism.
Was wondering what you thought about the return of WOW Air?
After talking to many Icelanders, especially those involved in the tourism industry, there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief with the demise of WOW. The feeling was that their low fares attracted too many visitors that saw only a low fare, knew little about Iceland, and traveled woefully unprepared for either the conditions or the real expense. Such were not a purposeful visitor but ones who were only attracted to what they thought would be a cheap vacation to an exotic land.
I came away with the impression that many are prepared for the "hit" to visitor numbers as they feel that going forward the quality of visitors will be much better that they quantity.
Interesting take. I would hate to be subjected to all the tourists all day everyday! I totally agree, I saw many a tourist totally unprepared, taking silly risks for a photo, going off pathways in treacherous conditions. A pet peeve of mine when I was in Iceland for my last trip in winter was coming around a corner to find a car just "abandoned" in the road while people were taking photos. Nearly hit a car when it was snowing as they had just parked in the road. And this was the ring road, so loads of traffic.