Icelandair In Talks With Airbus And Boeing To Replace Their 757s – What Plane Would Be Best?

Icelandair has started talks with Airbus and Boeing as the airline is considering replacing its Boeing 757 aircraft. Morgunblaðið, an Icelandic newspaper, reported that the airline has formally initiated negotiations about potential aircraft acquisitions with the two aircraft manufacturers. Reportedly, Icelandair would like to retire its aging Boeing 757s and replace them with newer and more cost-effective aircraft.

Icelandair Boeing 757
Icelandair operates its Boeing 757s on short and medium-haul routes. Photo: Icelandair.

Icelandair’s Fleet

The airline’s fleet currently consists of 25 Boeing 757-200s, 2 Boeing 757-300s, 4 Boeing 767-300ERs, and 3 Boeing 737 MAXs. The flag carrier of Iceland is expected to receive a total of 16 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (9 737 MAX 8s and 7 737 MAX 9s) over the next few years.

According to Icelandair, its “Boeing aircraft are ideal for [its] list of over 40 destinations in Europe and North America. Their range varies between models, with the 767s having the longest range.”

Icelandair Boeing 757-200
Icelandair currently operates 25 Boeing 757-200 aircraft. Photo: Wikimedia.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifications of its Boeing 757 aircraft:

  Boeing 757-200 Boeing 757-300
Number of Seats 184 225
Maximum Range 3,900 miles 3,200 miles
Cruising Speed 544 mph 544 mph

Assuming that Icelandair wants to replace its 757s with an aircraft that has about the same range and number of seats, what airplane would be best for Icelandair?

What plane would be best for Icelandair?

Apparently, Icelandair is interested in Airbus and Boeing airplanes, even though the airline currently operates Boeing aircraft only. Unfortunately, there is no direct replacement for its aging 757 aircraft. Boeing built the last 757 in 2004.

Nonetheless, the aviation world is anxiously anticipating Boeing’s new midsize airplane, the Boeing 797. As Simple Flying reported, the 797 is expected to launch in 2025. However, the new aircraft will supposedly be introduced at the Paris Air Show this year.

Then, there is the Airbus A321LR. Airbus has offered the aircraft as a replacement for the Boeing 757.

Let’s take a look at both of them.

Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of information on the Boeing 797 yet. Boeing is expected to offer two models of the 797 to start out with. First of all, there will be the NMA-6X. This model is expected to carry 225 passengers and have a range of 5,000 nm. Then, there will be the NMA-7X. The NMA-7X will hold 265 passengers and have a range of 4,200 nm.

The A321LR, on the other hand, carries 206 passengers and has a range of up to 4,000 nm. Accordingly, the A321LR has the longest range of any single-aisle aircraft.

Airbus A321LR
Unlike the Boeing 797, the Airbus A321LR has already taken to the air. Arkia Israeli Airlines received its first A321LR last November. Photo: Airbus.

Furthermore, the Airbus A321LR is a single-aisle aircraft, while the Boeing 797 will be a twin-aisle aircraft.


As we can see, the Boeing 797 will have a longer range and carry more passengers than the Airbus A321LR. Nonetheless, it appears that the Airbus A321LR’s specifications are closer to the ones of the Boeing 757-200 which Icelandair is trying to replace.

Additionally, it really depends on how fast Icelandair wants to retire its Boeing 757s. The 797 is at least 6 years out, while the A321LR is already available.

Based on this information, it looks like the A321LR is the best Boeing 757 replacement for Icelandair at this time. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if Icelandair is willing to purchase Airbus aircraft to replace part of its all-Boeing fleet.

Which aircraft do you think would be the best choice for Icelandair?