Icelandair Leases Boeing 737s As MAX Crisis Drags On

Icelandair has had to rent Boeing 737 aircraft as the carrier’s growth stalls without its new Boeing 737 MAX fleet.

Icelandair 737 MAX
Icelandair has opted for an older version of the Boeing 737. Photo: Boeing

What are the details?

Icelandair, like many other European carriers, is relying on a solid summer holiday season for the bulk of its revenue. With many more people set on flying to Iceland in the warmer summer months (and using the island as a way to hop over the Atlantic) the airline needs to lay the groundwork in the dark winter.

However, many of its future plans rely on the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that should have been delivered to them by now. With the grounding on the aircraft still in effect, the airline is nervous that its new planes might not come in time for the lucrative summer months. 


It’s extra painful when you realize that the airline has five Boeing 737 MAX 8s and a single Boeing 737 MAX 9 in storage. These are unable to be flown on commercial passenger flights and are currently doing nothing more than sitting in storage in France looking pretty.


The airline also has eleven more 737 MAXs to be delivered, leaving them short 16 aircraft.

Icelandair won’t be flying their Boeing 737s anytime soon. Photo: Boeing

How will the airline solve this problem?

According to CH-Aviation, it appears that Icelandair doesn’t think they will have their Boeing 737 MAX fleet flight anytime soon.


“In the light of recent news from Boeing on the ongoing process in cooperation with international aviation authorities of returning the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft safely back to service, Icelandair does not expect the MAX in operation within its route network during the high season of next summer,” the airline said in a statement to the publication. 

Fortunately, Icelandair ensured that its operating schedule would not be overly reliant on the MAX fleet. In fact, if the fleet was cleared to fly tomorrow, the airline would use them as extra capacity instead of for essential routes.

Part of the airline’s planning is to keep its Boeing 757-200 fleet flying far longer (some were due to be swapped out by the new MAXs) as well as hiring an additional three Boeing 737-800s. These new aircraft are not wet-leased and will be fully crewed by Icelandair.

It isn’t all good news, however, as without the MAX aircraft the airline is expected to only be able to carry the same amount of passengers in 2020 as 2019. A silver lining is that the leases for the new three 737-800 aircraft have been negotiated well in advance and for a better price than in 2019.

Icelandair 737 MAX
Icelandair is also now considering the Airbus A321LR and possibly the XLR. Photo: Icelandair

Icelandair has 27 Boeing 757 aircraft and four Boeing 767 aircraft that are still able to fly. It is rumored that they are also considering the Airbus A321LR or XLR for future fleet expansion, replacing the 757s and maybe even instead of the grounded MAX aircraft.

What do you think of this news? Do you want to try out their Boeing 737s? Let us know in the comments.


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Keith Fletcher

I would refuse to fly in any Boeing 737 Max now or in the future. After what I have read about Boeing and the FAA I would never trust this company again.


Yes I think we all know that things happen but we know we must go on yes I will fly on the 737 max leave it God hands to do may we all be safe God bless 🙏 all

Jeff B

When the Broad of directors get on a Max 8 and fly from the factory to Chicago and back. Then I may consider flying on the plane. After all they have been telling g us over and over that it us safe. The FAA should be on board as well.

Frank Venditti

I would NEVER. Fly that max aircraft , ever !


Good for them considering alternatives. If they get Airbus products they will not have to go thru the PR or renaming scandals that others are doing.

Tristan K

Wow, Icelandair found a way to make Transatlantic flying even more uncomfortable than their 757s!

Otto Toot

If Airbus were clever, they’d allow all airlines waiting on the disastrous Max to trade in ownership of their parked Maxes for refurbished A320s and A321s.