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Wow Air returns four aircraft in face of cash crunch

Iceland's Wow Air has returned four aircraft to lessors as its financial position continues to erode.

The low-cost carrier returned two Airbus A320 family aircraft and two Airbus A330-300 aircraft to their respective lessors, Wow says in a statement on 27 November. It calls the move part of a "necessary restructuring".

Wow operates 17 A320 family – A320, A320neo, A321 and A321neo – aircraft and three A330-300s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

The airline's fleet reduction follows a rapid deterioration of Wow's financial position since a 24 September bond issue, the airline says in a separate statement on the same day.

Wow is actively seeking long-term funding to continue operations, a move that it says is a "necessity for the business".

Northern European carrier Primera Air collapsed in October after failing to secure working capital to keep its aircraft flying. The low-cost carrier had begun transatlantic flights to Boston, New York, Toronto and Washington earlier this year, a market where it competed indirectly with Wow.

Wow cites the collapse of Primera, as well as negative publicity about its financial health and rising fuel prices, for its weakened working capital position since the €60 million ($67.7 million) bond transaction in September.

"[Wow] had significant bad publicity about the financial health of the company, which ended up having a more negative impact on the company's sales and credit position than anticipated," Wow says. "As a result, the Q4 results are materially worse than originally anticipated."

Icelandair Group announced plans to acquire Wow in early November, in a move seen as a way to shore up the two carriers that have engaged in a head-to-head battle on transatlantic routes in recent months. However, the airline needs both shareholder and regulatory approval for the deal.

Icelandair shareholders are scheduled to meet on 30 November to discuss and vote on the Wow deal.

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