Another Icelandic startup wants to Play

 

When Icelandic carrier WOW Air folded earlier this year, it left a gap in the aviation galaxy that's now attracted yet another plan to take its place, this time under the name of Play, headed by an ex-WOW exec.

Arnar Magnusson, who was operations vice-president of WOW, is CEO of the new group, which basically plans to replicate WOW's no-frills extra-for-everything splashy-planes-and-ads business plan. Play says ticket sales will start this month, and a lucky thousand winners will get free tickets.

Its plan is to fly first between Iceland and Europe, and by next spring to the U.S., offering cheap U.S.-to-Europe connections through Keflavik, Iceland. The company says it has $40 million in investment money and arrangements to lease a pair of A321s. What is doesn't have is an air operator certificate, and flights can't begin until that is issued.

Play's take, apparently, is that there was nothing seriously wrong with WOW's concept and operation except that it grew too fast, relying on investment money to add planes and routes quickly rather than waiting for profitable operation. It plans to grow slowly to about ten planes. If it gets off the ground, we'll get a chance to see if they are right.

Meanwhile, a new version of WOW, no connection to the old except that a new group bought the name, trademarks and the like from the old, plans to go in a different direction along the same kind of network. Originally, owner Michelle Balarin, a U.S. investor, pitched her new WOW as starting in October and offering a lounge, Michelin-star meals and more: definitely not the low-cost option. 

The new WOW was to start flying last month; now it plans to begin limited service next month as a cargo-only carrier, with plans for passenger service put off to sometime in the future.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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