Discount airline WOW Air has unveiled a plan to fly from Montreal or Toronto to Iceland for $99 one way and travel to numerous destinations in Europe for $149.
Those figures represent the base price of a one-way ticket, with all applicable airport charges and taxes in effect. But there are charges for other optional services, including up to $106 to change a ticket, up to $82 for a seat with extra leg room, and up to $246 to check three heavy bags. (Special items like skis, bikes, golf clubs and musical instruments also come with a $76 charge, the website says.)
The Icelandic carrier says the service via Reykjavik will begin out of Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport on May 12, 2016, and out of Toronto's Lester B. Pearson airport on May 20, 2016.
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Both services will operate year round, with departures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Launched in 2011, the airline has grown quickly and has offered deeply discounted flights with few amenities to European travellers for several years. But the move announced Thursday is part of the airline's plan to do the same in the opposite direction, and luring North American travellers eastbound.
It launched that plan earlier this year with cheap flights out of Boston's Logan airport and Baltimore Washington International.
"When we announced our U.S. routes last year, we promised that it was just the beginning of our growth into North America," the airline's owner, Skúli Mogensen, said in a release.
The strategy seems to be working as WOW says its passenger loads were up by 45 per cent in June and August compared to the same period last year.
"We have just had our best summer ever and, with these new routes launching in May 2016, next summer is another chance to break records. These great Canadian cities will become our newest destinations but I look forward to announcing even more in the not-too-distant future," Mogensen said.
The airline's 20 destinations include London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Dublin. The airline says its Canadian toehold represents an investment of about $60 million, and will create about 100 jobs between the two Canadian airports.
Discount airlines expanding reach
Although the business model has had a turbulent history in North America with the demise of airlines like JetsGo and Canada 3000, discount airlines like Ryan Air, Aer Lingus, EasyJet and others have had success offering short-haul flights between destinations in Europe.
Only recently have discount carriers started expanding their reach across oceans.
Canadian carriers WestJet and Air Canada have both announced plans to offer more and cheaper flights to European destinations.