Icelandair Cancels Tampa Flights

Filed Under: Icelandair

Having grown up in Tampa, I’m always interested in watching how the airport has grown. I remember growing up the airport’s only real transatlantic flight was on British Airways to London Gatwick, though since then the airport has grown significantly.

British Airways 777

Lufthansa launched flights to Frankfurt, Edelweiss to Zurich, Norwegian to London Gatwick, Delta to Amsterdam, and Icelandair to Keflavik.

Unfortunately one of those routes is being canceled. It appears that Icelandair has quietly canceled their flight from Iceland to Tampa. The airline launched this route 2x weekly as of September 2017, and in 2018 even expanded the route to 4x weekly.

Unfortunately it looks like Icelandair has canceled this route quite suddenly. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the route has just been cut, though looking at flight tracking, it seems that the route hasn’t been operated since May 4, 2019.

Icelandair blames the route cut on the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. There’s no doubt the grounding of the plane has put some pressure on the airline, as Icelandair has five 737s in their fleet.

At the same time, presumably if the Tampa route were performing well, the airline wouldn’t have canceled the flight indefinitely. Even looking at next summer, the flight is zeroed out in the schedule, so isn’t bookable.

I imagine there are a couple of other factors at play here too, beyond the 737 MAX grounding and (presumably) relatively poor performance of the route:

  • I imagine Icelandair received significant incentives from the airport to operate this flight, and those typically only last for the first couple of years, so without those the route is even harder to justify
  • For a long time Icelandair was growing largely to prevent WOW Air from growing, and with WOW Air now out of business, the airline doesn’t have to be as aggressive

Icelandair 767

Unfortunately I had booked the Tampa to Keflavik route for this fall, as we were going to go to Iceland for Ford’s birthday. We booked discounted business class tickets. Oddly the airline hasn’t yet notified us of the cancelation, which is disappointing, given that they haven’t operated the flight for weeks.

Icelandair’s 757 business class

In general I’m really enjoying planning vacations further in advance nowadays, so that we can anticipate them more. However, airlines seem to change their schedules so often this far out, that sometimes it’s almost silly to even book months in advance. This is my third trip this year with a major schedule change.

While Tampa’s traffic in general is increasing, this isn’t the only international loss for the airport. Delta’s new Tampa to Amsterdam route was recently launched, and it was initially supposed to be year-round.

Delta 767

However, since then it has become seasonal, operating in the summer only. That really shows that they were only able to market it in Tampa, for Americans wanting to go to Europe, rather than in Amsterdam, for Europeans looking to escape the cold in winter.

Are you surprised to see Icelandair cancel Tampa flights?

Comments
  1. Sorry to see this flight has been cancelled. I’d been wanting to try out a stopover in Iceland on Icelandair and TPA is convenient for me coming from ATL with flights every hour on DL ATL:TPA. I also liked that the flight time was a bit longer than those departing the NE to allow for a bit more rest, even in a recliner. Our last trip to Iceland was on Delta from JFK and the time between dinner and breakfast was under 3hrs which was rough.

    Also sad to see the Delta TPA:AMS route cut back as I check it periodically looking for appealing redemption opportunities that rarely if ever appear from DL’s east coast hubs.

  2. The Delta cancellation makes sense. Tampa is an okay city, but not a major tourist destination like South Florida, Orlando etc.

  3. Ben, when you book 6+ months in advance, particularly international, schedule changes can be expected. I don’t know the circumstances of your other trips’ schedules changes, but it is surprising that Icelandair hasn’t advised you of the cancellation or any protection opportunities yet. Given the number of trips you take, is three really a lot for a “major schedule change”?

    On another note, have you realized how frequently you use “nowadays” and “vast majority” in your posts? 🙂

  4. Schedule changes can be a beautiful thing – generally gives you license to demand reaccommodation on whatever flight you want, so you can end up with something even better than what you started with.

  5. @Sam – It depends on the carrier, and what they have negotiated with other airlines in terms of a protection agreement. Icelandair may still be working on those agreements, or they will only offer refunds to customers on the canceled flights.

  6. The route hasn’t operated since May because it was seasonal. It’s not resuming for the next season.

  7. If the route does not make sense to you when it’s awarded, one can almost predict its demise whenever the subsidies run out.

  8. This is disappointing. just got back from Iceland on a different airline and was looking forward to the Icelandair free stopover so that I can go visit Iceland many more times. I was serious about flying Icelandair as my main airline for trips to Europe later this year and next years. That also explains why I was having errors when searching flights out of Tampa on their site before my Iceland trip.

  9. @Blake M – Tampa itself isn’t as big of a tourist destination as greater Miami or Orlando, but flying into TPA (or RSW) is popular with Europeans looking for one to two week beach vacations anywhere from Pinellas County (St. Pete/Clearwater) as far south as the beaches below Fort Myers.

    I think the problem is that unless you were really price-sensitive or wanted a stopover in Iceland itself, there are plenty of one-connection alternatives from the major European cities to Tampa, Fort Myers, or even Sarasota/Bradenton. RSW has non-stop service to Dusseldorf on Eurowings (the southwestern beaches are particularly popular with Germans), and Ben listed the other European non-stop services to TPA. Rumour also has it that TPA could get Aer Lingus soon too. And finally, a lot of Europeans like to do fly/drive combos flying in and out of Orlando, driving to the western beaches, then returning to MCO (or for Brits, SFB) to fly home.

    With all this, I can see why Icelandair dropped the service, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they jump back in later if Norwegian drops TPA (or goes under.) Personally, I’d rather see EI come in, but mainly to make it easier for me to get to the Midlands next year without dealing with a 10-across 777 and LGW.

  10. “…the airport’s only real transatlantic flight was on British Airways to London Gatwick”

    My office window at my old job looked pretty much straight down 1L at TPA. One of the highlights of my day was seeing that BA livery roll in around 4:30 every day. Also notable because it was the only non-cargo wide-body you’d see in a workday.

  11. Call Icelandair and they will reschedule your flight from Tampa ( jet blue) to JFK then JFK ( Icelandair) to Iceland. Alternatively, you can choose to travel from Orlando direct. I had planned to go from Keflavik to Tampa in September I was not informed of the changes but called Icelandair last week to query why the Tampa flight had stopped. They offered me a return flight to Orlando instead but travelling a day early.

  12. I, too, am scheduled to fly out of Tampa in December. I just called the airline and they said that they still plan on running the flight. Worst case scenario, we’d get moved to orlando, but they would let us know ahead of time. Here’s to hoping our trips still work out!

  13. I called because I booked my flight Sept 19th. They told me the it is cancelled from now until September 16th. They wouldn’t let me change or refund my flight. I hope they get something together by then. Was shocked to hear this response.

  14. Emalied icelandair four weeks ago asking 2 questions about Tampa service.
    After two weeks got a reply but No real answer only that TPA had been cancelled due to Max situation. That is not true as the 737 not sch to fly Florida routes, per their own route maps!
    They need to seriously improve customer service – definitly staffing issues, or they will loose plenty of customers, not only TPA

  15. I had tickets to Iceland then Stockholm in November. I reached out to the airline before they ever contacted me. They advised the flight was canceled and blamed it on the 737Max. They changed my flight to depart from Orlando. I asked about them covering the cost for me to travel to Orlando or to park at Orlando. They said I could take the flight change or cancel. No upgrades, no freebies, and no reimbursement for additional expenses incurred by having to travel to Orlando. Customer service was severely lacking.

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