Iceland low cost airline Wow Air eyes U.S. routes next year

BERLIN Wed Mar 5, 2014 1:05pm EST

BERLIN (Reuters) - Icelandic low cost airline Wow Air will start up flights to the United States in 2015 after the privately-owned firm was denied the necessary slots at Reykjavik this year, the airline's chief commercial officer told Reuters.

The airline had planned to fly six times a week to Boston, starting in May, but had to cancel those plans earlier this year after it was denied the time slots that would have allowed it to connect incoming passengers from European destinations with the U.S. flight.

Those slots are currently used by flag carrier Icelandair (ICEAIR.IC).

"If it doesn't work out with the slots we're asking for, then we can change the European schedule for next year," Inga Birna Ragnarsdottir told Reuters at the ITB, the world's largest travel and tourism fair in Berlin.

Norwegian Air (NWC.OL), Europe's third biggest budget airline, became the only European budget airline to operate long-haul routes last year when it started flying to the United States and Bangkok.

The Norwegian carrier also plans to take on one of the most competitive markets in the world with flights between London and New York later this year.

Ragnarsdottir said Wow would also like to fly to a second destination in the United States, with New York top of the list.

Wow Air was set up by Icelandic telecoms entrepreneur Skuli Mogensen in 2011 and currently operates four Airbus A320 planes on lease to destinations such as London, Berlin and Copenhagen.

Ragnarsdottir said to fly to the United States, Wow would look at leasing two Boeing 757 planes. To make up for its lack of in-flight entertainment systems, it will give passengers the chance to rent iPads preloaded with movies and TV shows.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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