By Mike Mangano
Icelandic Airline PLAY Grows with Second US Flight
New Icelandic airline PLAY has announced further growth with its second U.S. flight coming next May 11. Departing from Boston Logan International Airport, PLAY will establish its first Northeast service, opening up 22 European destinations via its home in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s the second phase of PLAY’s wider strategy to capitalise on the year ahead which expects major growth in the travel industry.
As part of that strategy, the low-cost airline aims to continue its growth and influence with more flights this year from New York Stewart International Airport and Orlando International Airport, planned June 9 and September 30 respectively. With its “pay less, play more” slogan, PLAY will offer an additional competitive edge for international low-cost airlines, setting the goal of flying more than 1 million passengers from D.C., Boston and New York.
To celebrate the inaugural flight, PLAY will host a party and ceremony at the gate, with boarding passengers to be welcomed by PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson and local officials. According to PLAY, the boarding will begin at 6 p.m., offering passengers the chance to experience what it calls “95% on-time reliability.”
Growth During Global Pandemic
Established in 2019, PLAY has grown significantly despite the tourism slump that came with the global COVID-19 pandemic. Commencing operations between Iceland and mainland Europe, the airline has seemingly defied the odds by adding North America to its list of routes, having commenced its first U.S. flight from Baltimore on April 20, 2022.
Although its load factors were only 41.7% in July last year, passenger loads in March this year increased to 66.9%. The positive growth has justified the expansion of its staff and fleet, complementing its 2021 fleet of three Airbus A321neo aircraft with two A320neo and one A3211neo LR aircraft. With this fleet of six aircraft, the airline predicts a fivefold-increase of seat capacity from 196,000 in 2021 to 1.04 million in 2022, aiming to still add another four Airbus A320/A321neo aircraft to its fleet by spring 2023.
The increase in seat capacity, in part from seating modifications, will see the airline deliver additional savings for passengers and added environmental benefits as the global aviation industry aims to lower carbon production. The costs, being lowered by 7% , mean sustainable low-cost flights as it adds additional holiday routes to Geneva, Switzerland in 2023.
Speaking on PLAY’s low-cost services, Jónsson stated, “We are a no-frills airline, but with our reliable and affordable flights, PLAY’s passengers can spend their hard-earned money in their holiday destination, rather than on getting there.”
PLAY’s Positive Outlook
In step with PLAY’s record of growth during the pandemic, the airline shows little sign of concern as the world faces its next crisis of increasing oil prices fuelled by the conflict in Ukraine. Although the airline anticipates increased fuel prices will cost it around $10 million, it sees strong pent-up customer activity due to the travel limitations imposed from the previously mentioned pandemic.
According to its annual CEO Update and Outlook, PLAY “uses one of the most fuel efficient aircraft available on the market,” adding “our network and schedule are structured in the most economical manner possible”. The airline’s financial situation is such that it has no plans to raise additional capital “unless the world and market situation deteriorates significantly from the current situation.”