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Passengers stranded across two continents after Iceland’s WOW air suddenly halts operations

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Iceland’s WOW air became the latest budget airline casualty on Thursday, halting operations and cancelling all future flights after efforts to raise more funds failed.

WOW, which focused on low-cost travel across the Atlantic, advised stranded travelers to seek flights with other airlines. It flew a total of 3.5 million passengers last year.

“This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done but the reality is that we have run out of time and have unfortunately not been able to secure the funding of the company,” WOW CEO and founder Skuli Mogensen wrote in a letter to the company’s 1,000 employees.

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“I will never be able to forgive myself for not taking action sooner,” he added.

WOW had earlier postponed flights on Thursday as it entered what it had hoped were the final stages of an equity raising with a group of investors.

“My flight from Boston has been canceled. Having a hard time getting through to anyone on the phone. Can you help me at all?” Twitter user Marc Solari wrote.

WOW replied with an apology and offer of further assistance.

WOW is the latest budget airline to collapse as the European airline sector grapples with over-capacity and high fuel costs. Recent failures include Britain’s Flybmi, Nordic budget airline Primera Air and Cypriot counterpart Cobalt.

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“RESCUE FARES”
Other airlines including, Icelandair, Easyjet and Norwegian stepped in offering discounted ‘rescue fares’ to stranded passengers, according to the Icelandic Transport Authority.

WOW has been pursuing different avenues to raise money over the past few months.

It ended talks with rival Icelandair last Sunday while veteran low-cost airline investor Bill Franke also had canceled a proposed investment through private equity fund Indigo Partners.

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Icelandair shares traded up 13 percent at 1215 GMT after the failure of a competitor.

Founded in 2011 by entrepreneur Mogensen, WOW used smaller single-aisle planes to fly between Iceland and many destinations in the United States and Europe.

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Its website had advertised flights from London to cities such as New York and Boston for as little as 150 pounds, although the journey went via the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.

Norwegian Air has a little over half of the market share in the fast-growing, low-cost, long-haul transatlantic market, while WOW controlled a quarter in 2018.

There are fears of a knock-on effect on Iceland’s important tourism industry.

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Around 30 percent of tourists visiting Iceland last year flew with WOW and the collapse could trigger a 16 percent drop in tourists this year, research from Icelandic bank Arion showed.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund; editing by Darren Schuettler/Keith Weir)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Early Mozart minuets sell for 372,500 euros at Paris auction

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An original score of two minuets composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was just 16 blew past estimates at a Sotheby's auction in Paris on Monday, going under the hammer for 372,500 euros ($413,000).

It was nearly double the top estimated value of 200,000 euros set for the handwritten score dating from 1772, and which formed part of the extensive music collection of a fellow Austrian, the writer Stefan Zweig.

The unpublished, autographed score of the minuets -- a stylised dance -- contains a few corrections and minor modifications, including one or two that might be in the hand of Mozart's father, Leopold.

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2020 Election

‘Just not a serious opinion in 2019’: Critics pan Joe Biden claim that marijuana is a gateway drug

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"Perpetuating unsubstantiated theories like this hurts people."

Critics of former Vice President Joe Biden attacked remarks made by the Democrat Saturday in Las Vegas that appeared to endorse the long-discredited myth that marijuana is a gateway drug.

"Perpetuating unsubstantiated theories like this hurts people," said attorney and activist Eliza Orlins.

Biden, one of the top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, made the comments at a town hall in Las Vegas.

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Ex-Devin Nunes aide sues publication that exposed his alleged role in Trump’s Ukraine scandal

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Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is suing Politico after it published a report that exposed his alleged role in the Ukraine scandal that's engulfing the Trump White House.

Fox News reports that Patel, who currently works at the National Security Council, is alleging that the Politico story is false and defamatory and part of a broad conspiracy to bring down President Donald Trump.

The story in question claimed that Patel constantly fed negative information about Ukraine to the president and helped convince him that the country was out to get him.

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