Skift Take

The legal scope of Ben Baldanza's non-compete agreement working for a foreign airline is unclear, but the competitive implications of this appointment for WOW in the North American market is massive, and it seems that Mogensen could be setting up to take his airline public in the U.S.

Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air has announced that former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza will join its Board of Directors.

Baldanza was replaced as Spirit CEO on January 4.

The airline cites Baldanza’s “wealth of experience in the airline industry with particular expertise in the realm of ‘ultra-low cost’ carriers.”

Additionally sharing Baldanza’s considerable career credentials, WOW Air mentions the efforts of Baldanza in successfully preparing Spirit to become a NASDAQ-listed airline, the successful implementation of an ultra-low cost model at Spirit and his: “Reputation for bold and edgy marketing campaigns.”

“WOW Air is an airline rewriting the rules of low cost, long haul travel and I look forward to joining Skuli and the members of the Board in growing the business further in years to come,” says Baldanza.

Skúli Mogensen, founder and CEO of WOW Air says: “I’m delighted to welcome Ben Baldanza to our Board of Directors. The success of his tenure at Spirit Airlines has earned him enormous respect in the airline industry and his expertise and insight will be invaluable as we continue to grow WOW air’s network on both sides of the Atlantic. Ben is someone who understands the needs of a growing ultra-low cost airline and he is passionate, as we are, about offering the opportunity for anyone to travel the world.”

WOW air also notes the timing of Baldanza’s appointment aligned to its growth strategy, saying:

“The appointment comes amid rapid expansion for WOW air with new destinations for 2016 including Bristol, Edinburgh, Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline recently announced profits of $6.53 million (ISK 1.1 billion) for 2015, only four years after being founded.”

Under the terms of his separation agreement with Spirit Airlines, Baldanza, “agreed to provide transitional services as may be requested from time to time by the Company’s chief executive officer or the Board, for a period of one year.”

The former Spirit airlines CEO received severance benefits including payments in equal installments over 24 months totaling $1 million, health coverage, and a lifetime travel pass on Spirit for himself and his family.

Baldanza’s severance package included a two year non-compete and non-solicitation clause which imposed, “restrictions on use and disclosure of Company confidential information, and Company ownership of intellectual property and work product.”

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Tags: low-cost carriers, spirit airlines, wow air

Photo credit: Spirit Air's ex-CEO Ben Baldanza Has joined the Board of Icelandic Low-Cost Airline WOW Air. WOW Air

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