The impact of the continued suspension of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is being felt in the airline’s schedules at least until June 15.
Icelandair has changed its flight schedules for the coming two months, based on the assumption that the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be suspended until at least June 16.
With four MAX 8 and one MAX 9 aircraft in its fleet and deliveries for 11 more of the two types scheduled to take place by 2021, the Icelandic flag carrier has felt the impact of the planes’ grounding due to the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.
But it says its decision to add wet-leased aircraft to the fleet as compensation has reduced the negative effects of the suspension on its flight schedules.
The airline entered into a leasing agreement at the start of April on two Boeing 767 aircraft, and now it has finalised a deal to lease a third aircraft, a 184-seat Boeing 757-200 that will be in operation from May 15 until the end of September.
At the same time, Icelandair will reduce the number of its flights by around 3.6% from now until June 15, which accounts for around 100 flights in total.
In most cases, the airline says, these are flights to destinations where more than one frequency is available on the same day.
However, it stresses that the total seat capacity during the period will essentially remain the same, as the Boeing 767 is bigger than the 737 MAX and “therefore these changes will not have significant effects on the total number of passengers during the period”.
Cleveland, Halifax out
But Icelandair has opted to cancel its routes to Cleveland in the US and Halifax in Canada altogether this year.
This is partly due to the suspension of the MAX “but also because of a decision to focus on meeting increased demand for flights to and from Iceland by moving supply from destinations that focus on travel between North America and Europe via Iceland”, the carrier maintains.
Like other airlines impacted by the MAX crisis, Icelandair says it will seek compensation from the aircraft manufacturer, which makes the overall financial impact of the grounding “uncertain at this time”.
Icelandair is adding routes at short notice too, in the wake of WOW air’s disappearance, specifically to southern Europe. It will start three flights a week to Alicante in cooperation with Icelandair Group tour operator subsidiary VITA.