For millions of Indians flying West every year, there’s a new airline in town. And, it’s ultra-cheap.
Iceland’s trans-Atlantic carrier Wow Air Ehf, which offers low-cost flights via its hub in Reykjavik, is entering India with tickets to the US at $199 starting from December 7. That would be the first no-frills option to passengers travelling from the South Asian nation to North America’s eastern seaboard.
Wow Air’s tickets on Airbus SE A330neo aircraft will be priced at half of what full-service carriers offer, Chief Executive Officer Skuli Mogensen said in an interview in New Delhi. The fares aren’t just introductory, he said.
“If you look at flights from India to North America, they actually go directly above Iceland,” Mogensen said. “So Iceland is the perfect hub for India to North America traffic. It has a superior connecting time than what people currently use — London, Dubai, Frankfurt or Amsterdam.”
Wow Air could also get an early-mover advantage in the world’s fastest growing major aviation market, where local budget carriers like IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., and SpiceJet Ltd. are firming up plans to start low-cost, long haul operations.
Middle-eastern carriers typically offer one of the cheapest fares from India to the US For a flight to New York from New Delhi on June 15, Turkish Airlines was offering the cheapest fare at $420 with a stop in Istanbul, while Emirates was for $510. Air India Ltd. had the cheapest non-stop flight at $660. United Airlines sold tickets at $940, according to online travel agent MakeMyTrip.com.
Flying passengers across continents and oceans for a fraction of a cost is fast emerging as the next big thing in aviation. Once ridiculed in the industry, the budget model for long-haul flights have gained global traction in recent times, with the rise of a slew of carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which transformed itself from flying winter-weary Scandinavians to southern Europe to a global behemoth connecting Oslo to New York and Stockholm to Bangkok.
India will overtake UK to become the third-largest aviation market with 278 million passengers by 2025, according to International Air Transport Association. The market will contribute $172 billion to the nation’s economy, more than doubling from the current $72 billion, according to IATA.
Wow Air’s New Delhi-Reykjavik leg would take about 10.5 hours, and another 5.5 hours to New York after a two-hour lay over. The carrier will offer connections to 15 North American cities including Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco from India, apart from connecting flights to European cities.