Early morning on Tuesday 8th May, I got an intimation that WOW air will announce its Delhi operations on May 15th. Continuing with the policy of not “breaking news” till things are in public domain, I did not tweet until somebody else did. The reaction to the news was “WOW”. This will be the airlines first and only destination in India and adds another feather in the cap for Delhi International Airport which boasts of maximum connections by airport from India.
This morning RoutesOnline released the schedule for the flights. The airline will launch the route with A330-300 aircraft from 6th December 2018, operating thrice a week (Tue,Thu,Sat) and increasing the frequency to five times a week (All days except Fri & Sun) starting 7th January 2018. The aircraft is configured in 345 seats comprising a small section of premium seats which the airline brands as WOW premium.
WW322 KEF1145 – 0315+1 DEL
WW321 DEL0700 – 1320KEF
WOW air is an Icelandic low cost carrier which started operations in 2012. The airline, which took over Iceland Express’s operation, expanded to North America in 2015 with services to USA followed by those to Canada in 2016. The airline added A330s in its fleet to launch flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Average fleet age of the airline is less than 3 years. Known for its quirkiness, like registering their aircraft as MOM, DAD,BRO, SIS, LUV, DOG and many such, the airline is looking to expand aggressively in 2018.
The airline flies to 14 destinations in North America and that includes some of the cities which have large traffic from India like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., New York and Chicago. For the airline to start creating a hub for long haul operations, New Delhi will be a great beginning since it fits into the optimum range of the airlines A330s in fleet. What would have tilted the Asian station selection in favor of New Delhi is the growing leisure traffic out of India and Delhi’s rise as a regional hub.
The flight will connect to WOW Air flight bank to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Boston, Toronto and Montreal in both directions with longer connections to Chicago. There is a large Indian – American population in New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco regions.
This will not be the first wide body low cost carrier operations to India with AirAsia X and Scoot flying their A330-300 and B787 respectively, however this will truly be the first long haul wide body low cost operation and would give good insights to Spicejet – which was the first to make its intentions public on low cost long haul and IndiGo – which is on the verge of ordering wide body aircraft for low cost long haul.
Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi climbed to 16th place worldwide in calendar year 2017 with 63 million passengers. The airport had crossed 50 million passengers in 2016, recording 55.64 million passengers for the calendar year. The airport grew fastest in the list of top 20, recording a 14.2% growth in the statistics released by ACI.
WOW air will be a different experience for the passengers flying out of India. The airline states that it does not accept cash for baggage booking and only cards. With only personal item free of cost and even the carry-on bag being paid. Seats have to be pre booked, at a price and so is the case with food. The airline does not serve hot meal.
The airline has a fleet of 19 aircraft (3 A320, 13 A321 and 3 A330) with 4 A330neo on order.
Keflavik International airport is the main hub for WOW Air and has seen a growth of over 20% for the last four years. The airport is one of the two airports for Reykjavik – the capital and the largest city in Iceland.
The Air Service Agreement (ASA) between Iceland and India mandate 14 weekly services and till now neither of the countries have seen direct connectivity. With this flight, there still remains scope to add 9 weekly services for either Icelandair or for WOW air to explore services to Mumbai, the second busiest airport and commercial capital of India.