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Meet the Icelander who will make international flights super cheap for Indians

Skuli Mogensen was also named Iceland's Businessman of the Year in 2011 and 2016.

Anwesha Madhukalya   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 17, 2018  | 13:48 IST
Meet the Icelander who will make international flights super cheap for Indians
PC: WOW air

How about flying from India to North America at 30-50% cheaper rates than currently available? And to add to it, what if you get a stopover at Iceland's capital, Reykjavik? That's what Skuli Mogensen, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of WOW air, is promising. A few years ago, Iceland was an obscure country, too pretty but too far for travellers to visit. After the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, the Iceland government launched a PR campaign to reassure foreign travellers. They also showcased the country in all its beauty.

By then Mogensen had realised it was expensive for visitors to travel to Iceland on a restricted budget. So, in 2011, he founded WOW air - the Icelandic discount carrier. In only six years, WOW air, under Mogensen's sole ownership, almost caught up with Icelandair that's been operating since 1937. A 2016 Business Insider report on Mogensen said that WOW air was experiencing 125% growth year on year and was on track to rake in half a billion dollars in 2017.

However, WOW air is not Skuli Mogensen's first successful venture. The Philosophy major from Iceland University has been part of multiple projects with over 15 years of experience in technology, telecom and venture capital.

In 1990 he founded OZ Communications and served as its Chairman, CEO and President from 1990 to 2007. In 2008, he sold OZ Communications to Nokia. In 1998, he founded Islandssimi, a telecommunications company, which later merged with Vodafone. In 1999, he co-founded Mobilestop. In 2005, Mogensen founded Arctic Ventures. He has also been an active public and private investor in the tech sector for at least 10 years. Skuli Mogensen was named Iceland's Businessman of the Year in 2011 and 2016.

But, Mogensen is not just another businessman. He is adventurous and hugely into sports. He spends as much time as he can on outdoor activities. Extreme skiing, cycling and triathlons are only some of the activities he is said to enjoy. Perhaps, it is the same reason Mogensen launched WOW Cyclothon in 2012. The cyclothon takes cyclists 1358 km across Iceland in 72 hours.

More importantly, his love for outdoor activities is how he ended up in the aviation industry. In an interview to Men's Journal, he said that after participating in triathlons and adventure sports, he wanted a career that would bring him the same amount of thrill and challenge. And while his peers dissuaded him, Mogensen had set his heart on creating something for the long-haul smart traveller "who favours protein bars over three course meal or using personal tech devices over watching in-flight movies".

Mogensen is also an active patron of the arts and has sponsored a number of artists and exhibitions in his country. He also sponsors CrossFit tournaments. Under Mogensen, Wow air provides not just affordable tickets for long flights, but also exciting offers for backpackers.

Recently, the airline offered an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to two people to move to Iceland for 3 months, travel to WOW air's 38 destinations across the world and write a travelogue for its website, Travel Guide, where the content would be hosted. Along with accommodation, the candidates would also be paid 3,300 euros.

Now, following the same manoeuvre as across multiple destinations, WOW air is launching its flight operations in India. "Our launch is in sync with India's aviation growth story and we look forward to being part of it with our very affordable fares to North America and Europe on board brand new Airbus A330neos. WOW air also plans to add more flights to India in the future as the country strongly moves ahead to become the world's third largest tourism economy in the next 10 years," Mogensen said at the launch.

As of spring 2018, WOW air services 39 destinations across Europe and North America including Dublin, London, Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen. The purple airline boasts one of the world's youngest fleet, with an average aircraft age of just two years. It said that it will use the brand new Airbus A330neo aircrafts on the Delhi route.


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