Icelandair Expects Boeing 737 MAX To Return In March

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Icelandair is confident that its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be back in the skies flying by March 2020. Icelandair revealed its new 2020 scheduling, which includes the type operating 2% more routes to Europe, balanced with some capacity restrictions to North America.

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Icelandair believes that its MAX fleet will be operational in a few short winter months. Photo: Icelandair

Icelandair planning 2020 routes with the 737 MAX in mind

According to a recent article published by Flight Global, Icelandair is planning to overhaul its route network for the coming year.

Part of this overhaul is reliant on their fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft being operational and flying routes deep into Europe by March 2020. That month is no coincidence, as it will mark a year that the type has been grounded since two crashes occurred killing over 300 people.

Icelandair has five 737 MAX aircraft, four of which are the ill-fated 737 MAX 8 aircraft and one of the bigger Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft. There are orders for a further 5 and 6 MAX aircraft of each type respectively, which may have been built but not yet delivered. Interestingly, at one point Icelandair considered ordering the A321LR to help replace these grounded aircraft (which would have been their first Airbus aircraft).

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Icelandair’s business model will change to be more Iceland centric. Photo: Boeing

What routes would the MAX fly?

As part of the route overhaul, Icelandair is looking to reduce its overall capacity by 4.8% in 2020.

The mission behind these changes is to switch the airline from being a transatlantic competitor (something that their sister Icelandic airline WOW Air tried and failed) to an Iceland tourism and local airline.

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“Our main focus next year will be on improving the profitability of our route network,” says chief executive Bogi Nils Bogason to Flight Global. “We will focus on our key markets where we see high demands and decrease the frequency of flights on less profitable routes.”

The majority of these will be routes to North America, with the airline planning to cut up to 11% of all seats through withdrawing from city markets like Kansas City, Tampa, and San Fransisco. The airline has also suggested that changes in market forces have made it reduce frequencies to a slew of other American destinations.

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Icelandair has orders for a number of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: Boeing

However, it is not all doom and gloom for the European airline.

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Icelandair is also increasing its seats to Europe by 2%. This will be done by increasing capacity to cities like Milan, Berlin, Madrid, Helsinki, and others. It comes at a cost with some services being reduced for Paris and Frankfurt.

Likely the airline is counting on the 737 MAX for these extra services, with its higher density seats to give the airline that little extra edge in the very competitive marketplace.

What do you think? Will you be flying onboard the new service to Europe? Or are you upset that Icelandair is no longer serving some American cities? Let us know in the comments.

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