Icelandic Startup Play – What’s The Latest?

Icelandic start-up airline PLAY has gone through a series of setbacks and delays since its inception in 2019. Despite initial plans to start flights by winter 2019, the airline has yet to begin operations. There is little evidence to suggest PLAY will stick to its most-recent Autumn 2020 launch date.


PLAY Aircraft mock-up
PLAY has yet to launch after pushing back the date several times this year. Photo: PLAY

Given the predicament the entire aviation industry is in, PLAY has been holding off on its launch until more favorable market conditions come around. However, after an additional round of investment in May, PLAY is well-placed financially to begin flights on short notice.

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Latest updates on PLAY

Scant information has come out over the past few months as the airline bides its time during the coronavirus crisis. In a June interview with Icelandic newspaper Viðskiptablaðið, PLAY president Skúli Skúlason claimed the carrier is ready financially to start flights:

“We have access to sufficient financing for us to be able to take off.”

Tickets have not yet been released on PLAY’s official website. Photo: PLAY

After much anticipation, PLAY finally launched its website back in June. On the front page, the message remains that tickets will be on sale soon. The airline hasn’t released an official statement since May, when it earmarked an Autumn 2020 launch date. The statement notes the slowing impact of the coronavirus crisis and re-affirms PLAY’s strong financial position.

Will PLAY run flights this fall?

Given that we are right in the middle of autumn and there’s no sign of PLAY launching operations, it’s extremely unlikely the airline will be up and running before winter. PLAY has been beset by delays and pushbacks, with its launch date put back multiple times over the past year.

PLAY formed out of the ashes of WOW Air, which ceased operations in March 2019. Photo: Getty Images

On a positive note, CEO Arnar Már Magnússon has claimed that the airline can begin operations on very short notice. PLAY draws upon the know-how of defunct WOW airlines, with most of its 36 employees coming from WOW. In a televised interview, Magnusson stated:

“We could manage to start in just days or weeks. But we are currently planning on starting later on towards the fall, in terms of scheduled flights, though we could start sooner if needed.” 

What flights will PLAY offer?

PLAY’s initial strategy is to provide flights to European destinations before expanding to the North American market. The airline has stated there will be six European destinations to begin with – Copenhagen, London, Paris, Berlin, Alicante, and Tenerife. However, PLAY is carefully monitoring the market and may alter its plans at any point.

PLAY will initially serve European destinations before expanding. Photo: Great Circle Mapper

When flights are up and running, PLAY reportedly plans to rely on Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. After securing a lease for two Airbus planes, PLAY has since reneged and brought in just the one A321 until further notice. PLAY aircraft are set to offer around 200 seats for their European journeys. Despite plans to launch, there has been no update regarding the carrier’s airline license application.

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