Icelandair Removes Boeing 737 MAX From Flights Until 2020

According to a press release from Icelandair issued yesterday, the Nordic airline has removed the Boeing 737 MAX from its schedule until 2020.

Iclandair-featured 737-MAX
Icelandair takes 737 MAX off the schedule till 2020. Photo: Icelandair

Icelandair said it does not anticipate the lifting of the grounding on the Boeing 737 MAX to happen before the end of the year. The company said that the changes also reflect current market developments.

Despite the unavailability of the 737 MAX, seat capacity in November and December will be increased by nearly 3% compared with what was on offer last year. The seat capacity between Reykjavík and Europe will increase the most, with Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, and Dublin seeing the biggest increases.

North America will see a decline in the number of the city’s served

Despite the increases in operations to Europe, North America will see a decline in the number of cities served compared to last year, with Portland being removed until the spring of 2020.

Icelandair takes Portland off the schedule till spring 2020. Photo: Icelandair

In spite of an overall decrease in seat capacity to North America the cities of Denver, Minneapolis, Orlando and Vancouver will see an increase in flights. Over the first six months of the year, Icelandair transported 1.4 million passengers, an increase of 26%  year-on-year.

The leasing agreement on one of the five aircraft Icelandair brought in to lessen the impact of the 737 MAX grounding has been extended until October. Other leasing arrangements related to the MAX will not be extended.

The grounding of the 737 MAX has cost Icelandair $140 million

In its second-quarter results, Icelandair revealed the negative impact the grounding of the 737 MAX, estimating that it had cost the island nation’s national airline $140 million.

The MAX grounding has cost Icelandair an estimated $140 million. Photo: Wikipedia

This figure was calculated assuming that the MAX would be flying again by the end of October. Now that it appears unlikely that the aircraft will be flying again before the end of the year, Icelandair is already in negotiations with Boeing over further compensation.

Icelandair is reviewing its fleet strategy

Icelandair has, in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, said it is going to review its fleet strategy while insisting it had nothing to do with the MAX.

Icelandair 737 MAX
Icelandair is reviewing its fleet strategy. Photo: Wikipedia

Icelandair has five 737 MAX 8s and one MAX 9 with three 8s and six 9s on the order books.

To make up for the loss of the 737 MAX in its fleet, the airline temporarily acquired a Boeing 757, wet-leased a further two and brought in two De Havilland Dash 8-400s from Air Iceland Connect, according to Air Transport World.

Using Keflavík International Airport near Reykjavik as its hub, Icelandair acts as a low-cost option for North Americans and Europeans crossing the Atlantic. Primarily flying Boeing 757s, the all Boeing airline was hoping that the new 737 MAX would eventually be Icelandair’s go-to aircraft.

Icelandair and Boeing have a deeply entrenched relationship going back many years, so the Nordic airline is tippy-toeing around the subject of the MAX so as not to upset Boeing. With this in mind, an Icelandair spokesperson was keen to point out that the airline’s fleet review was initiated before the grounding of the MAX.

Air Transport World reports Icelandair as saying: “As we have reported to the stock market, we have three scenarios under consideration.” These are: ·

  • Maintain the current fleet strategy, with continued use of the company’s Boeing 757-200s alongside its 767-300s and 737 MAX.
  • A faster renewal of the fleet, with the Airbus A321neo introduced alongside the 737 MAX aircraft and a more rapid retirement of the 757-200s.
  • A possible complete switch from Boeing to Airbus types.

No timeline has been laid out for a decision, but should Icelandair deviate from flying all Boeing aircraft it would be a huge move on the part of the airline.

Incidentally, Southwest Airlines, another all Boeing carrier, has decided to take a look at Airbus’s new A220.