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Icelandair 737 MAX (image: Icelandair)

Half of Iceland’s visitors fly WOW or Icelandair

The Icelandic carriers brought 1.2 million people to Iceland last year, and the nationalities of the visitors is changing.

Overseas travellers made around 2.2 million visits to Iceland during 2017, according to statistics accumulated by the travel news site Túristi, and nearly 1.2 million of them travelled either with Icelandair or with WOW air.

The remaining 1.2 million arrived with one of the approximately 30 foreign carriers that have scheduled flights to Keflavík International Airport.

Some 36% of WOW’s passengers last year, more than 500,000 of them, were not Icelandic, while almost all of the rest were layover passengers, the remainder being visiting Icelandic citizens.

Icelandair, meanwhile, carried around 730,000 international passengers to the country during the year, which is around 36% of the airline’s total passenger numbers.

The number of Americans in Iceland has increased considerably in recent years, a trend continuing also this summer compared to the same period for 2017, or by around 27%, see the table below.

This is thanks to the expansion of the Icelandic airlines in the US market, Túristi says, with both Icelandair and WOW air adding five new US destinations to their routes this summer.

Likewise, the number of European travellers visiting Iceland has dropped proportionally, in part because Icelandair has cut its number of flights to European destinations. This is having a knock-on influence on the nationalities of Iceland’s visitors.

Visitor stats, July 17 – July 18

                                              Change in no. of flights       Change in no. of tourists
USA                                      +36%                                       +27%
Germany                             -25%                                         -20%
France                                 -13%                                          -17%
Nordic countries               -14%                                          -14%

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