Wow Air shelves transatlantic plan over slot dispute

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Icelandic budget carrier Wow Air has shelved plans to open a transatlantic connection to Boston after being unable to secure suitable slots at Reykjavik's Keflavik airport.

The airline has been embroiled in a spat over obtaining slots at Keflavik airport, which resulted in a ruling by the Icelandic competition authority last November.

Under this ruling the authority instructed Keflavik's operator, Isavia, to provide suitable slots to enable Wow Air to compete against Icelandair.

The authority's investigation found that a hub-and-spoke system at Keflavik, with suitable slots, was "a prerequisite" for other competitors to enter the market for transit flights between Europe and North America.

Isavia was instructed to prioritise Wow Air during summer 2014 slot allocation.

But Wow Air claims it has been "denied" important departure slots at Keflavik and has been "forced to cancel" plans to operate a service to Boston in spring. The airline says it faced an "indefinite waiting period" for a final decision on slots to be reached.

Wow Air chief Skúli Mogensen says the company is "incredibly disappointed" to have been prevented from opening the route. "This is not only having a detrimental effect on our plans to expand, but also on our passengers’ right to competitive rates and Icelandic tourism as a whole,” he adds.

But the carrier is intending to keep up pressure in order to secure the slots for US expansion.

Wow Air operates between Keflavik and London, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen with a fleet of four Airbus A320s.