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May 31, 2023

Icelandic Airlines - Exploring the Skies of Iceland

Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and geothermal wonders. However, this Nordic island nation also boasts its own aviation industry, with several airlines operating in Iceland. In recent years, PLAY airlines, a low-cost carrier, has emerged as a prominent player in the Icelandic aviation scene, offering affordable travel options to both locals and tourists. But with just 380,000 inhabitants, you might be surprised to learn that Iceland has more than one airline and they're actually thriving. Why? Let us explain.

Iceland's Strategic Geographical Position:

Iceland's strategic location between Europe and North America makes it an ideal transit hub for transatlantic flights. It’s also ideally placed for diplomatic relations and political summits in a cold war climate but that’s an entirely different blog. Situated in the middle of the North Atlantic, the country's major airports, Keflavík International AirportLink opens in a new tab and Reykjavík AirportLink opens in a new tab, along with smaller airports Akureyri AirportLink opens in a new tab to the north and Egilsstaðir AirportLink opens in a new tab to the east, serve as gateways to and from Iceland. These airports are not only vital for connecting international travelers but also facilitate domestic travel within Iceland.

The Icelandic Aviation Experience

Aerial view of famous Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral and the city of Reykjavik in Iceland. Image taken with action drone camera

Magnificent Aerial Views

Flying over Iceland offers a unique and breathtaking perspective of the country's diverse landscapes, including volcanic terrain, glacial formations, and the iconic Blue Lagoon. The aerial view showcases the natural beauty that has made Iceland a sought-after travel destination. Even the most globetrotting Icelanders can often be heard gasping at the incredible views when approaching Iceland from the air. Flying from Iceland to North America can often provide those in the window seat with amazing views over Greenland and during winter, the northern lights never disappoint those lucky enough to catch a glimpse from the air.

Domestic Exploration

Iceland's domestic airlines provide convenient connections to smaller airports throughout the country. This opens up opportunities for travelers to explore Iceland's remote regions, such as the islands many remote but beautiful islands or the Westfjords where road access is limited. For those staying in Reykjavik, an excursion to the countryside comes highly recommended and if a road trip is not part of the agenda, perhaps a short flight to some dreamy remote location like Grímsey to the north might be worth checking out.

The Icelandic Airlines Landscape

So, what’s the story? We’ll list up some of Iceland’s major airlines along with a few noteworthy mentions and you’ll see for yourself.

Eagle Air (Flugfélagið Ernir)

Eagle Air is an Icelandic airline offering domestic flights from Reykjavík to Vestmannaeyjar, Hornafjörður, Bíldudallur, Gjögur and Húsavík. Aside from their exciting remote route connections, they obviously just have an amazing brand name.

WOW air

While WOW air was once a prominent name in Icelandic aviation, it unfortunately ceased operations in 2019. However, it played a crucial role in revolutionizing the concept of low-cost long-haul travel, providing affordable flights between Iceland and various destinations in Europe and North America.

Icelandair

Iceland's oldest airline, Icelandair, has been a key player in the country's aviation industry since 1937. With a vast network of destinations, Icelandair has been instrumental in promoting Iceland as a popular stopover destination for travelers flying between Europe and North America.  

Air Iceland Connect

A subsidiary of Icelandair, Air Iceland Connect now operates under its parent company’s name. The airline covered Icelandair’s domestic flights as well as flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Mýflug Air

Founded in 1985, Mýflug operates sightseeing flights in the northern part of Iceland, including over Vatnajökull glacier and Askja volcano. For those traveling in the northern part of Iceland and want to see more, these tours come highly recommended.

Niceair

Recently, airline Niceair began operating flights from Akureyri to various locations in Europe. Unfortunately, they ceased operations in April 2023 due to troubles with their partner that operated their aircraft. They can, however, be said to have opened up alternative routes to and from Iceland as demand for these flights was good.

Norlandair

Norlandair operates domestic routes to Bíldudalur and Gjögur from Reykjavik. as well as Grímsey, Þórshöfn and Vopnafjörður from Akureyri. Norlandair also operates flights to Nerlerit Inaat on the east coast of Greenland. This is your go-to airline for remote and obscure locations.   

Introducing PLAY airlines

A Newcomer on the Scene

 In June 2020, PLAY airlines emerged as a fresh face in Icelandic aviation, with a vision to make air travel more accessible and affordable. The airline was founded by a group of aviation enthusiasts and industry veterans who sought to revive the spirit of low-cost travel in Iceland.

PLAY's Fleet and Destinations

PLAY airlines operates a fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraftLink opens in a new tab, known for their fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. The airline connects Iceland with popular European destinations, such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona as well as North American destinations such as New YorkLink opens in a new tab, BostonLink opens in a new tab, BaltimoreLink opens in a new tab, Washington DCLink opens in a new tab and Toronto. With nearly 40 destinations in Europe, the United States and Canada in 2023, its expansion plans include gradually adding transatlantic routes, emphasizing the carrier's potential as a bridge between Europe and North America, with the added attraction of a stopover in Iceland.

PLAY’s Affordable Travel Experience

PLAY airlines aims to create a seamless and enjoyable travel experience while keeping costs as low as possible. Passengers have the option to customize their journey by choosing additional services, such as baggage allowance and seat selection, according to their preferences. PLAY's emphasis on affordability makes it an attractive choice for budget-conscious travelers. But this low-cost option comes with the added comfort and safety of a very young fleet of state-of-the-art Airbus A320 family aircraft. This way, you can travel in style in these bright-red and brand-new airplanes, yet you never pay for what you don’t need and can customize your travels to fit your budget.

Safety is the Name of the Game

The one thing you cannot customize when traveling with PLAY airlines is safety. It’s the ultimate guiding light of all of PLAY’s operations and with one of the youngest fleets in Europe, the aircraft are new, well maintained and optimized for PLAY’s specific operations. The crew is highly trained and committed to providing excellent costumer service.

PLAY in Iceland

Aviation in Iceland plays a vital role in connecting the island nation with the world, while also providing domestic travel options for locals and tourists. As the newest entrant in the Icelandic aviation market, PLAY has quickly established itself as a key player, offering affordable travel opportunities and a fresh perspective on low-cost air travel. With its modern fleet, expanding route network, and emphasis on affordability, PLAY airlines is well positioned to ensure a healthy competition in the market and offer budget travelers an opportunity to explore Iceland and cross the Atlantic without breaking the bank.

As Iceland continues to attract a growing number of tourists, PLAY offers a convenient and cost-effective option for visitors to experience the country's natural wonders, vibrant culture, and unique charm. Whether it's the mesmerizing northern lights, the dramatic landscapes of the Golden Circle, or the stunning waterfalls like Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss, Iceland's attractions are now more accessible than ever before.

In addition to its role as an affordable carrier, PLAY is actively involved in minimizing its environmental impact. The airline employs the latest fuel-efficient aircraft, which reduces carbon emissions and supports sustainable aviation practices. PLAY has also integrated some eco-friendly initiatives, such as carbon offset programs, to further contribute to climate conservation programs and the preservation of Iceland's pristine natural environment.

For Icelandic residents, PLAY offers a valuable link to the rest of Europe and North America. Whether it's for business or leisure, the airline's expanding route network provides more choices and flexibility for both outbound and inbound travelers. Icelanders can take advantage of PLAY's affordable fares to explore new destinations, visit family and friends abroad, or enjoy city breaks and weekend getaways.

As PLAY airlines continues to establish itself in the Icelandic aviation landscape, it is expected to contribute to the country's overall tourism growth and economic development. By attracting more visitors to Iceland and creating opportunities for Icelandic businesses, the airline plays a significant role in driving the country's travel industry forward.

PLAY crew members onboard a PLAY flight

Finally...

In conclusion, aviation in Iceland is an essential component of the country's connectivity, allowing travelers to explore its natural wonders and cultural treasures. With PLAY now leading the way as a low-cost carrier, Iceland has not only become more accessible to global travelers, but it has also opened up exciting possibilities for Icelanders to connect with the world. So, whether you're an adventurer seeking to discover Iceland's rugged beauty or a traveler looking to embark on a new European or transatlantic journey, PLAY is ready to take you there at an affordable price, adding a touch of excitement to your Icelandic aviation experience.

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