New Icelandic Airline Reports Strong Bookings as Flights Begin

Icelandic startup Play Air Hf reported strong bookings for the coming weeks as it started operations with a flight to London Stansted airport.

Sales for the latter part of July and August are particularly healthy, fueled by demand from locals eager to head south for a vacation after more than a year of coronavirus lockdowns, according to Chief Executive Officer Birgir Jonsson.

“The demand is really good, especially later this summer,” Jonsson said prior to the inaugural departure from the north Atlantic island’s Keflavik airport. “Many here have become sun-thirsty.”

New Icelandic Airline Reports Strong Bookings as Flights Begin

The launch of flights to seven European cities comes almost two years after Play Air was first conceived as a successor to Wow Air Hf, with several of its top executives drawn from the defunct discounter. The first flight coincided with the start of a two-day subscription period for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq First North Iceland market that aims to raise up to $36 million.

Icelanders are buying flights to Tenerife in the Canary Islands and the city of Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca, Jonsson said, while the past couple of weeks has also seen a pick up in European tourists booking visits to the island from cities including Berlin and Paris.

Reservations for early July are not so popular, the CEO said, reflecting the slow pace of the European travel restart and concern among Britons about travel curbs being reintroduced, after Portugal lost its quarantine-free status. Iceland remains on the so-called green list after its success in managing the pandemic.

New Icelandic Airline Reports Strong Bookings as Flights Begin

Jonsson said plans submitted as part of the IPO envisage Play Air turning profitable next year. The carrier will get a second Airbus SE A321neo narrow-body plane at the end of the month, with a third arriving before the end of July, leased from Dublin-based AerCap Holdings NV.

Flights to North America are planned for next March or April, creating a one-stop link between the U.S. and Europe.

Play Air secured $50 million in new funds in April from Icelandic financial institutions. Its biggest backer is investment group Fea, led by Elias Skúli Skúlason, whose Airport Associates provides handling services at Keflavik.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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