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    Iceland’s WOW Air budget carrier collapses, cancels all flights

    REYKJAVIK (AFP) – Iceland’s budget carrier WOW Air said it had ceased operations and cancelled all flights yesterday, potentially stranding thousands of passengers.

    The collapse of the troubled airline, which transports more than a third of those travelling to Iceland, comes after buyout talks with rival Icelandair collapsed earlier this week.

    “All WOW Air flights have been cancelled. Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines,” the carrier said in a statement.

    “Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available.”

    WOW Air, founded in 2011, exploited Iceland’s location in the middle of the North Atlantic to offer a low-cost service between Europe and North America as well as tapping into a tourist boom to the volcanic island.

    However it had flown into financial trouble in recent years due to heightened competition and rising fuel prices, and had been searching for an investor for months.

    On Monday, WOW Air said it was in talks to restructure its debt with its creditors after Icelandair ended brief negotiations over buying a stake in the no-frills airline.

    WOW Air was left needing USD42 million to save the company, according to the Frettabladid newspaper.

    The privately owned airline has undergone major restructuring after posting a pre-tax loss of almost USD42 million for the first nine months of 2018.

    It has reduced its fleet from 20 to 11 aircraft, eliminating several destinations, including those to the United States, and cutting 111 full-time jobs.

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