An Air Iceland Connect Dash 8 en route from Reykjavik to London Heathrow ended up making a four-hour flight to Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG) on Monday this week. Simple Flying has contacted Air Iceland Connect to find out what happened and why the aircraft never landed at Heathrow (LHR).
Air Iceland Connect, flight number NY600 operating a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-200, registration number TF-FXK was en route to London Heathrow Monday afternoon when, for a so-far unexplained reason, it was diverted to Paris.
First of all, Air Iceland Connect does not list London Heathrow as one of its destinations on its website, so we can only assume that this was a one-off flight somehow perhaps related to the current coronavirus crisis.
A little bit about Air Iceland Connect
Formerly known as Flugfélag Íslands, Air Iceland Connect is a regional Icelandic airline with regularly scheduled flights to Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and domestic destinations within Iceland.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 13, 2020
Based at Reykjavík Airport (RKV), Air Iceland Connect is a subsidiary of Icelandair and operates a fleet of two Bombardier Q400 aircraft and three Bombardier Q200 aircraft all named after Icelandic saga heroines.
Why would a Dash 8 be flying to Heathrow?
With other London airports to choose from, why would a small airline operating Dash 8 aircraft want to use an expensive and highly contested slot at London Heathrow?
Before its demise, Exeter-based Flybe did just that, competing with British Airways on routes to Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Now with Flybe gone Scottish regional airline Loganair will start operating flights from the United Kingdom’s busiest airport.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak airlines around the world have been forced to slash routes, ground aircraft, and even in some cases change airports, as is the case with Loganair.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Glasgow-based Loganair operated flights out of London City Airport (LCY) to the Isle of Man, a tax haven in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland. When speaking to The Scotsman newspaper about Loganair operating out of Heathrow, Chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said:
“A sign of the strange times in which we find ourselves – Loganair’s first service to Heathrow.
“This is to where we’ll be maintaining the Isle of Man’s essential air service to London for British Airways at Terminal 5 over the next month as our normal ‘home’ at London City is closed.”
“The service that Loganair normally operates for BA CityFlyer has been moved to Heathrow temporarily, at least until the end of April.
“London City Airport has closed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Unlike easyJet and Ryanair, Loganair provides a vital link between outlying islands and the Scottish mainland and as such is still flying while other airlines have grounded their fleets.
When speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today program Hinkles said:
“As a provider of lifeline air services, Loganair is unlike other many airlines in that we must continue to fly the lifeline routes on which our customers depend.
“It’s critical we do so, and we believe we are well placed to be able to maintain those services throughout the current crisis.
“This position means we are unable to ‘suspend’ our operations and furlough all our employees as other airlines have.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous effect on all UK airlines.
“The [UK] Government has made it clear that it is open to specific requests for support from individual airlines, and whilst Loganair has not yet taken up this invite as we explore all paths, with the unique position we find ourselves, we expect to join other UK airlines in doing so in the coming days.”
Small airlines are still flying
It is interesting to see that the tiny airlines who normally struggle when having to compete with the bigger players are now coming into their own. Air Iceland Connect, just like Loganair, provides a vital service with routes other airlines are not interested in. With lower overheads, and in many cases a captive audience, small regional airlines could come out of the coronavirus crisis better than they went into it.
What do you think? Please let us know in the comments section.