100,000 Passengers In Half A Year: PLAY’s First 6 Months

Last summer, a fleet of bright red planes started flying out of Iceland’s Keflavik Airport. The airline, PLAY, carried just over 100,000 passengers in its first six months, with substantial growth plans including North America in the months to come.

PLAY, Launch, Expansion
PLAY is happy with its first six months. Photo: PLAY

Though one man begged to differ, many were confident that the middle of a pandemic would be the worst time to launch an airline. Last summer, Birgir Jónsson launched PLAY out of Keflavik Airport in Iceland. He believed it was the perfect time to launch an airline through agreements such as power by the hour and a sudden surge in aircraft availability. It seems he wasn’t wrong.

100,000 passengers in six months

PLAY carried 101,053 passengers on more than 1,000 flights in its first six months of operations. The airline had an average load factor of 53.2% for the year. This maxed out at 66.7% in October 2021, which was the airline’s best month to date, with around 24,000 passengers.

Unfortunately, the airline saw a bit of a dip at the tail end of 2021. This was partly due to the arrival of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which has caused headaches for many carriers. However, things are looking more positive moving forwards, with 2022 seeing a significant expansion for the airline.

PLAY, Six Months, Expansion
October was PLAY’s best month yet. Graph: Simple Flying

Commenting on the first six months, the airline’s CEO, Birgir Jónsson, remarked,

“2021 was a year of many major milestones and victories for PLAY… We have been operating in a relatively small and defined market during our first six months and to be able to gain the trust of more than 100,000 people in a very challenging business environment should not be taken for granted and is a major achievement.”

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

What’s to come in 2022?

2022 will see a significant expansion for PLAY. The Icelandic airline is strategically placed between Europe and the United States with plans to act as a connection hub for travelers heading between the two continents. So far, the airline has only been flying to Europe. This meant that the bulk of its passengers were flying to or from Iceland. After all, it’s not ideal to connect in Iceland when flying from London to Berlin.

PLAY, Six Months, Expansion
PLAY’s current network (red) and planned expansion by July (dark blue). Photo: Cirium

On April 20th, the airline will begin flying from Iceland to Baltimore/Washington Airport (BWI). This will be followed by Boston (BOS) on May 11th. Due to the airline’s plan to have connecting flight cycles, it has no aims to fly to the West Coast of the United States.

The expansion isn’t just aimed at heading stateside, however. According to aviation experts Cirium, the airline has flights planned to nine European destinations from Keflavik in January 2022. By July, this will more than double to 19 European destinations, according to current schedule data. To aid this expansion, the airline will be taking delivery of several more Airbus A320neos, including some brand new jets.

Did you fly with PLAY in its first six months? How did you find it? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!