Iceland’s Wow Air announced early Thursday that the budget airline had ceased operations, canceling all its flights and stranding passengers around the world.
In a travel alert signaling the abrupt collapse, Wow Air urged its passengers to look elsewhere to complete their trips, noting that other airlines may offer "so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances."
Wow Air did not include any details about such fares but said, "Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available."
Ireland’s Aer Lingus said it would offer rescue fares to Wow Air passengers who were scheduled to fly between Thursday and April 11. Customers who have Wow Air tickets for trips after April 12 are eligible for “value fares” with Aer Lingus, the company said.
In a section of the alert with the heading “What are my rights?” the airline outlined how some passengers may be entitled to compensation for their canceled flights. People who purchased travel insurance or who bought their tickets using a credit card that comes with travel protection may be able to recoup some costs, Wow Air said, but added that “such compensation is often limited.”
The carrier said it may be obligated to compensate passengers in accordance with European regulations. "In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator," the company said.
On Twitter, stranded passengers expressed their frustration and tagged the airline and other carriers in an apparent efforts to get home.
The airline’s customer support account on Twitter was hit with request after request for help. A litany of apologies in public messages Thursday instructed individual customers to send their booking information through private, direct messages for assistance. Customers complained about canceled flights, demanded refunds, and asked for new bookings to continue interrupted travel plans.
As of Thursday, the carrier was offering sub-$200 fares from Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Boston. Wow Air also served Newark Liberty airport in New Jersey.
Last year, Icelandair reached an agreement to buy Wow Air. Both airlines had been struggling in the face of higher oil prices, slowed tourism to Iceland, and competition from rivals that offered direct flights to Europe. But the deal evaporated.
A private equity firm also recently discussed investing in Wow Air, but last week the airline announced that the suitor had ended the talks. In a last-ditch effort, just a week before Wow Air announced the end of its operations, the company said it had rekindled conversations with Icelandair for a potential takeover, the Financial Times reported.