Iceland’s PLAY Launching Flights This Summer, Puts Tickets On Sale

Iceland’s PLAY Launching Flights This Summer, Puts Tickets On Sale

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Iceland’s newest airline has just put tickets on sale.

PLAY Airlines secures operating certificate

Icelandic low cost carrier WOW Air ceased operations in March 2019. Later that year details of PLAY Airlines were announced, which is a new Icelandic low cost carrier founded in part by former WOW Air executives. Initially the plans were for the airline to launch in the summer of 2020, but unsurprisingly the pandemic delayed that.

The airline is now just weeks from launching:

  • PLAY has secured its operating certificate in Iceland
  • The airline has secured lease agreements for three Airbus A321neos from AerCap
  • The first aircraft will have the registration code TF-AEW, and it’s an A321neo that used to fly for Interjet; it’s currently in Houston, where it will be painted, and then it will be flown to Iceland
  • The airline will launch operations between Keflavik and London Stansted as of June 23, 2021, with more routes to follow shortly thereafter

Eventually the airline plans to operate with a similar business model to WOW Air, offering flights between North America and Europe via the Keflavik hub. However, as of now the airline hasn’t requested any sort of permission with the Department of Transportation, so we’re likely a minimum of several months away from the airline launching flights to the United States.

PLAY has secured leases for A321neos

PLAY Airlines routes

Tickets for travel on PLAY Airlines are now on sale, and the airline intends to launch flights to several European cities, including:

  • Alicante (ALC) as of July 12, 2021
  • Barcelona (BCN) as of July 15, 2021
  • Berlin (BER) as of July 1, 2021
  • Copenhagen (CPH) as of July 21, 2021
  • London (STN) as of June 23, 2021
  • Paris (CDG) as of July 14, 2021
  • Tenerife (TFS) as of June 28, 2021

As you’d expect, fares are cheap (think somewhere around $50 one-way), but the airline also has fees for everything, ranging from carry-on bags, to checked bags, to seating, to priority boarding.

It’s interesting to me that a couple of the launch markets (Alicante and Tenerife) are vacation destinations in and of themselves, and not otherwise huge markets. While I imagine generally the airline is targeting foreigners who want to fly to Iceland (until service to North America launches), is that the case with those markets as well, or is the airline trying to serve vacation destinations for those in Iceland?

WOW Air’s reincarnation remains a mystery

PLAY is one of only two Icelandaic airline startups right now. While there are some former WOW Air executives at PLAY, there’s also supposed to be a reincarnation of WOW Air, as a businesswoman from West Virginia purchased the rights to the airline.

While she has promised repeatedly that the airline would soon relaunch, no one actually knows what’s going on. The airline may become a cargo airline based in West Virginia, may have a coffee shop in Washington, and may become an Italian airline, or something.

In February of this year she claimed that flights would launch in the first quarter, and Icelandic media has started to question if she’s for real. She maintains that WOW Air is still happening. She also claims that the airline will be blocking middle seats so that a food hamper can be placed in that seat:

“It’s for an innovation that has to do with a bit of privacy, as well as the ability to remove food service by galley carts and flight attendants.”

It’s all just so strange.

Who knows if WOW Air will ever make a comeback

Bottom line

PLAY sure is moving forward with launching operations quickly. The airline will be launching flights as of June 23, with plans to offer flights to seven destinations in Europe over the summer. PLAY will fly Airbus A321neos and has a low cost business model. I’m curious to see how this works, especially without flights from North America to Iceland.

I also can’t help but wonder if PLAY still isn’t being a bit aggressive with the timeline here, as the carrier hasn’t even taken delivery of its first plane.

What do you make of PLAY?

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  1. No Name

    @Stephen Morrissey

    Norwegian had/has seasonal direct routes to 7 Nordic cities from TFS.

    5H35M from CPH direct. 7-8 H with LH connecting in FRA or MUC.

    And WOW stopped operating in March 2019, their last summer season was 2018.

    Last year, yeah right

  2. Eskimo

    So they still are not connecting US to EU yet?
    I'm sure Europeans are not going to transit at KEF.
    I'm sure Iceland doesn't have enough O&D demand to fill all these routes.

    Might be wise for them to wait for DOT approval before flying?

  3. Stephen Morrissey

    We met a ton of Danes in Tenerife last year and a lot of them flew in on the now defunct WOW.

    A quick check shows that it can take up to 20 hours (via connecting flights) to get to TFS from Copenhagen.

    A 3 hour (and change) flight from CPH to KEF , then a 5 hour flight from KEF to TFS may be a good option for Danes

  4. NK3

    Alicante and Tenerife are interesting locations to have at launch. Nearly a million people live on Tenerife (similar in population to Oahu, and nearly 3x bigger in population compared to Iceland), so maybe there is a decent amount of local demand for Iceland? Though Icelandair already has seasonal flights to TFS. At least Alicante is not currently served by Icelandair, but was a destination WOW flew to.

    If they are thinking of people flying from...

    Alicante and Tenerife are interesting locations to have at launch. Nearly a million people live on Tenerife (similar in population to Oahu, and nearly 3x bigger in population compared to Iceland), so maybe there is a decent amount of local demand for Iceland? Though Icelandair already has seasonal flights to TFS. At least Alicante is not currently served by Icelandair, but was a destination WOW flew to.

    If they are thinking of people flying from the US and connecting at KEF to go to Europe, neither of those locations are popular (or know at all) to most Americans.

  5. Eric

    If this airline is successful, Iceland will be back to being super touristy.

  6. DCJoe

    @John- was thinking the same thing. That deep red against bright white clouds in the second rendering is AWFUL.

  7. Peer

    There's one good thing about PLAY, compared to other ultra-low-cost-carriers. They not only got a A321neo previously flying for Interjet, but apparently also left the interior as it is. That's a nice 34 inches of legroom for every passenger.

  8. John

    This airline has already failed. In its 'livery'. Anyone fancy a ride in a plane dripping in blood?! Terrible.

  9. Aaron

    Honestly, assuming they are planning on becoming a serious airline, wouldn't it make more sense for them to build up a decent route network in Europe first and then expand outside Europe to places like the US? Or do they really need the US market to theoretically survive?

  10. Joe1293

    Ben, please do a review of this airline

  11. Anthony Thomas

    For now, PLAY flights to/from the UK would be well-timed given it's one of the few 'green' countries UK people can travel to without quarantine on return.

  12. shoeguy

    More workers, shareholders, investors, and travelers waiting to be fleeced by another idiotic enterprise.

  13. lenin1991

    Calling Michele Ballarin a "businesswoman" is being charitable ... serial huckster would be more accurate. Her interference with Somali pirates a decade ago was just so bizarre and damaging.

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charles

and the stupid name too !

No Name

@Stephen Morrissey Norwegian had/has seasonal direct routes to 7 Nordic cities from TFS. 5H35M from CPH direct. 7-8 H with LH connecting in FRA or MUC. And WOW stopped operating in March 2019, their last summer season was 2018. Last year, yeah right

Eskimo

So they still are not connecting US to EU yet? I'm sure Europeans are not going to transit at KEF. I'm sure Iceland doesn't have enough O&D demand to fill all these routes. Might be wise for them to wait for DOT approval before flying?

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