WOW2 “has different emphases”
Businesswoman Michelle Ballarin was interviewed in today’s Morgunblaðið business supplement. She owns USAerospace, alongside brothers Jeff and Joe Robertson, and the company is currently completing its purchase of all flight operations parts of the WOW air bankruptcy estate. Ballarin says she has long seen aviation opportunities in Iceland.
Ballarin is not new to the world of aviation and owns shares is several airlines, including in East Africa, and her co-owners both have experience in the industry too. Ballarin and the Robertson brothers see opportunities in the freight market between Iceland and the USA and they plan to include two freight-only airbus jets in their fleet that would fly daily. They hope to start with an overall fleet size of three and expand it to as many as 12 within two years.
They plan to establish an Icelandic company that would own 51 percent of the company they are currently calling WOW2, while the other 49 percent would be owned directly from the USA. The purchase price is being kept secret, but the company has already been insured by 10.5 billion krónur in working capital and Ballarin says the company is debt-free and that it is important for it to have enough capital. To make it a success, very close care and attention must be paid to the fledgling airline.
Among the differences proposed for WOW2, in addition to freight services, are that staff will not be ferried between Reykjavík and Keflavík as WOW air used to do at significant cost. The new company’s IT department will be significantly smaller. And passenger compensation payments will be specially examined.
Ballarin says WOW air wasted millions of dollars on passenger compensation and that the new airline must work to shrink that sum by, for example, communicating better with its customers, and preventing bags being lost or delayed. She also says the company has good ideas on how to improve passenger experience on board and at airports, which could also serve to cut compensation requests.
The interview does not state when the new airline plans to take to the skies, and that date is partly reliant on when operator licences can be secured.
Ballarin says she is potentially interested in even more investment in Iceland.
The article also states that Ballarin is a Republican and a strong Trump supporter. She is a devout Christian, plays organ, and has two degrees in church music.