War of Words between Airline and Operator

Operator makes official complaint; ministry promises to investigate.

Iceland’s Ministry of Tourism has called for an investigation into the services of Iceland Express following a complaint by the tour operator Discover the World. The operator, one of the biggest for tours to Iceland, has stopped selling flights on the airline to its customers, claiming that it has provoked a “series of difficulties”. The operator claims that tour passengers booked on the airline in the first half of 2010 experienced an unacceptable number of cancellations and schedule changes.

Many of these were as a result of the disruptions to services caused by the ash clouds from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano this spring. However, Clive Stacey, Discover the World’s managing director, insists that the practices of Iceland Express are habitually “highly questionable”. In a comment posted on the TravelMole webiste, he said: “With Iceland Express expanding its UK and North American destinations and moving from a ‘point-to-point’ to a ‘hub and spoke’ operation, there are some important questions here.

For example, the airline has a history of regularly cancelling flights at short notice (as late as two weeks before departure).” Delays caused by the airline provoked an enormous number of complaints, he said, which the operator was left to deal with. Both operator and airline claim that the other owes it money. Matthias Imsland, CEO of Iceland Express, commented: “Discover the World owes the airline a considerable amount of money and has in the company’s opinion demonstrated unprofessional conduct.” In response, the operator made a similar claim.