After coming to the conclusion that the 737 MAX will be grounded longer than was first anticipated, Icelandair has let go of some of its Boeing 737 MAX pilots.
Icelandair made the announcement that it would be terminating the employment of 45 of its 737 MAX pilots during a training session, according to Aviation24.be.
Of the number of pilots let go, 21 included newcomers to the airline who had just begun working on the 737 MAX before it became grounded. The other 24 pilots to lose their jobs had been with the airline since last autumn, flying the ill-fated Boeing aircraft.
Having now made changes to its summer schedule to not include the 737 MAX, the Nordic carrier has announced that it has agreed to wet-lease one B757-200 from an unspecified carrier. The leased aircraft will be used during the summer season, between now and September.
This latest aircraft comes on the heels of two B767-300ERs Icelandair already leased from Portugal’s euroAtlantic Airways.
When ch-aviation asked Icelandair where they were leasing the 757-200 from, all Icelandair would say is that the aircraft will be equipped with 185 seats.
With its almost unique position halfway between North America and Europe, Iceland’s national flag carrier has built a business around stopover transatlantic flights. This is in addition to the demand for service in Iceland.
Their current fleet of all-Boeing aircraft is based at Keflavík International Airport, located close to Reykjavík. It consists of 25 Boeing 757-200’s, two 757-300’s, four 767-300ER’s and five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
With an average age of 20 years, Icelandair was in the process of retiring the 757’s and replacing them with the Boeing 737 MAX.
On paper, and given Icelandair’s history of working with Boeing, the 737 MAX looked like the ideal aircraft for the carrier, given its location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Icelandair even said so much themselves when talking about the 737 MAX on their website saying,
“With the addition of 16 737 MAX 8 and 9 – the first aircraft arriving in early 2018 – our fleet is perfectly suited to serve both Europe and North America from our unique location in Iceland.”
What now for Icelandair and the 737 MAX?
No airline wants to have aircraft sitting on the ground that they cannot fly!
Icelandair and dozens of other airlines around the world are in this position now following the grounding of the 737 MAX after the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline disasters.
To make matters worse for Boeing the FAA is telling airlines to check 179, 737 MAX’s for improperly manufactured parts.
Called a leading-edge slat track a (part of the wing) that helps provide lift during take-off and landing was found to be susceptible to “premature failure or cracks resulting from the improper manufacturing process”, the FAA said on Sunday as reported by the Guardian.
While not threatening, it is just another bit of bad news for the American plane manufacturer.
Icelandair still needs to eventually replace their ageing 757 aircraft and with Emirates President Tim Clark telling reporters at the IATA’s AGM in Seoul that “If it (737 MAX) is in the air by Christmas, I’ll be surprised,” Then maybe it’s time Icelandair started looking at the A321neo? What do you think?
Simple Flying has reached out to Icelandair for comment.