Why Iceland’s PLAY Will Never Fly To Los Angeles

In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying today, the CEO of one of Europe’s newest carriers, PLAY, talked about the airline’s future plans. Birgir Jonsson spoke about how the airline does not plan to fly to destinations like Los Angeles from Europe, despite the high demand. Let’s find out more about this decision.

PLAY inaugural flight
PLAY operated its first flight last Thursday and already has big plans. Photo: PLAY

No West Coast

PLAY operated its first flight from Keflavik International Airport in Iceland to London Stansted on 24th June, less than a week ago. However, the carrier, run by ex-WOW Air alumni, is already thinking about its future expansion, particularly to the US. However, there will be one destination off the map: Los Angeles, and the rest of the West Coast too.

Speaking exclusively with Simple Flying today, CEO Birgir Jonsson emphasized the need to not grow too fast and focus on the fundamentals. This would mean maintaining its fleet of narrowbody aircraft, currently the A321neo, and ensuring it doesn’t reduce aircraft utilization by flying to faraway destinations.

PLAY inaugural flight
PLAY’s fleet consists solely of the Airbus A321neo and it doesn’t plan on adding widebodies either. Photo: PLAY

This would automatically rule out flights to the West Coast, as that would mean no European flights on the same day. Speaking about this, Jonsson said,

“As for the low long-haul low-cost, I would classify us as long-haul, low-cost. We’re doing this correctly, we have no plans to route to LA [Los Angeles] or any kind of flights that go outside a 24-hour loop. We want to be able to use our afternoon flights to go to the US and have them back in the morning to fly European routes.”

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While PLAY is clearly not interested in flying to one side of the US, it’s still interested in the market. However, the long-haul flights will not begin until the airline has set up all its infrastructure, ensuring it doesn’t fall prey to the same issues seen at WOW Air.

Indeed, Jonsson said earlier in the interview, 

“I could technically start the US operation this autumn. I have the aircraft, I have the demand from the US, since it is on the [EU] green list now. But, we have the luxury of thinking and focusing on the infrastructure of the company, on the sales process, framing issues, and everything else. So when we take the step, we are completely prepared. That’s a real game-changer for us.”

From its hub in Iceland, using the A321neo, PLAY could fly passengers to anywhere in the US or Canada. Photo: GCMap

So when PLAY does find the right time to fly to the US, it will likely focus on its operations on the East Coast. This means destinations like New York, Boston, Chicago, and others will be the most likely suspects. However, Jonsson has made it clear that he is willing to wait out the initial pressure of flying long-haul and will always focus on efficiency over a larger long-haul network.

What do you think about PLAY’s strategy to avoid the West Coast while flying to the US? Let us know in the comments!