Icelandair Suspends Tampa Flights Due To 737 MAX Grounding

Icelandair has suspended its twice-weekly flight between Tampa International Airport and Reykjavík, Iceland due to the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Icelandair suspends flights to Tampa. Photo: Boeing

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Icelandair announced on Monday that it would be suspending its popular non-stop flight between the Sunshine State and Iceland as a result of the grounding of its 737 MAX fleet of aircraft, stating that,

“Due to the 737 Max grounding, we have had to make adjustments in our schedule.”

All Boeing 737 MAX aircraft were grounded worldwide following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in Nairobi, Kenya that killed all 157 passengers and crew. This incident followed on from a similar crash involving a Lion Air 737 MAX less than six months earlier, in which 189 people lost their lives.

The 737 MAX is an integral part of Icelandair’s fleet of aircraft and its grounding has caused them to suspend flights to Cleveland, Ohio and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Earlier this month Icelandair terminated the employment of 45 of its 737 MAX pilots as it does not know when the MAX will be able to fly again.

Tampa Bay International Airport sees an increase in international flights despite losing Icelandair

Kenneth Strickland, Tampa International Airport’s director of research and air service development told the Tampa Bay Times that he thought the grounding of the 737 MAX would prove difficult for Icelandair, saying,

“I don’t think any airline can lose that big a portion of their fleet and not have it trickle down to their entire network and impact where they can continue to fly.”

14% of Icelandair’s fleet is made up of Boeing 737 MAX’s. Photo: Icelandair

As far as Tampa Bay International Airport is concerned, the loss of the twice-weekly flight to Iceland is a disappointment. But, for them it’s not the end of the world, as other airlines are keeping up on the international flights front.

When asked by email for a quote on how Icelandair’s suspension of their non-stop service to Reykjavík, airport spokeswoman Janet Scherberger answered the Tampa Bay Times by saying,

“Fortunately, even with their departure, our international passenger growth trend continues. Scheduled seat capacity to Europe is up about 30 per cent this winter, thanks to increased frequencies on Lufthansa and Norwegian. The start of Amsterdam service on Delta Air Lines is also moving us in a positive direction.

“Icelandair represented a tiny fraction of our passengers — about 0.1 per cent (a 1/10th of a per cent) of our overall annual passenger’s year-to-date and less than 2 per cent of international passengers. So far this year, international passenger traffic is up more than 16 per cent.”

Icelandair had big plans for Tampa

Icelandair’s decision to suspend its service to the west coast of Florida comes just two years after they celebrated the start of their twice-weekly non-stop flights.

Before the 737 MAX grounding Icelandair wanted to increase flights to Tampa Photo: Iceland Air

The Nordic airline even had plans to expand the service, with airline officials announcing back in 2018 that Icelandair would be increasing its number of flights to four per week between September and June.

In a statement at the time, Icelandair North America marketing and public relations manager Michael Raucheisen said,

“We’ve been seeing a great demand for these flights in the Tampa Bay area market and we’re thrilled to not only increase the service, but double the service between Tampa and Reykjavik. We expect this to be a great partnership for years to come.”

How things can change in such a short time when what was normally a busy Icelandair ticket counter now stands empty waiting for another airline to come and put their logo on it.

What next for Icelandair and the 737 MAX?

Icelandair are clearly being hit where it hurts in terms of the 737 MAX grounding. However, they are not the only airline suffering. They, along with others, will be looking to Boeing for compensation.

Pair of Boeing 737 MAX Icelandair
IAG shows confidence in the 737 MAX by placing an order for 200 aircraft. Photo: Boeing

Although we still do not know when the 737 MAX will fly again, Boeing got a huge vote of confidence in their long-range single-aisle jet at the Paris Air Show yesterday. IAG, the owner of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling announced that they would be buying 200 of, what was before the incidents, Boeing’s best seller.

This seems like a strange deal for IAG, as they have traditionally preferred to use the Airbus family of A320’s as their single-aisle product. With the current climate around the jet, it’s likely that IAG managed to secure a hefty discount from Boeing for their order.

Boeing would probably look upon this as needing a big player to show confidence in the 737 MAX. For them, no matter how painful the discount might have been, it would be worth billions in public opinion to them.

Will you miss Icelandair’s Tampa service? Do you hope they bring it back when the MAX is allowed to fly again? Let us know in the comments.