The Adrian Loveridge Column – Air Services Agreement Creates Opportunities

IcelandairSigning an air services agreement between two countries does not of course mean that a new route launch is imminent, but it does set the scene to undertake research and do all the background work to ensure there would be a high probability […]of viability, if such a service is implemented.

Reykjavik or Keflavik is 3,957 miles (Great Circle), 3,438 nautical miles (nm) or 6,367 kilometres from Barbados, so in flying terms, around eight hours.

Who could operate the route?

The legacy carrier which can trace its roots back to 1937, Icelandair appears to be the front runner, having recently placed an order for two Boeing 767 – 300 ER (extra range) aircraft which are slated to enter service in spring next year. While these are being acquired to operate London (Heathrow), flights there may be an opportunity for a once weekly service to Barbados.

Icelandair currently operate to 54 destinations in Europe and 7 in Scandinavia from their hub at Keflavik/Reykjavik airport and this would give them a tremendous feed potential onto Barbados bound flights. From my early travel agent days, the airline was also accredited as ‘masters’ of stopover packages, where traveller’s could break their journey enroute for up to seven nights, at no extra flight cost to enjoy a completely unique holiday experience.

Two-centre ‘vacations’ are increasingly popular and when they offer such enormous contrasts are especially attractive to a huge segment of the travel market.

But Icelandair is not the only option. WOW Air flew its inaugural flight from Iceland to Paris in May 2012. By the end of 2015 they expect to have carried over 800,000 passengers this year. The airline is wholly owned by entrepreneur and investor, Skuli Mogensen, who made his fortune primarily in the technology, media and telecom industry. His online bio can only be described as very impressive and he appears to have a passion to make air travel more affordable.

WOW Air recently added A321 aircraft to their fleet, enabling the operation of transatlantic flights from as little as US$99 each way between Canada and the US to/from Iceland. According to the Airbus website, particular versions of the A321 have a range of 4,000 nm or 7,400 kilometers, so could reach Barbados nonstop from Iceland fitted with 200 economy seats.

While the exact seating configuration for the new B767-300ER destined for Icelandair has not yet been disclosed, almost certainly their planes will have an option of seat classes. That’s a consideration our tourism planners will have to bear in mind, if it gets to that stage. The option of a low cost 200 standard seats or a larger plane with business and first class choices.

Regardless of which is preferable, it is difficult to imagine that a country with a population of Iceland, estimated at only 329,000, alone could sustain such a route. In fact with a land mass of 40,000 square miles it is rated as the most sparsely populated country in Europe. But over 3.82 million passengers arrived, departed or transited Keflavik airport in the first nine months of this year.

So in any event, the hub and spoke connections will be crucial to any success.

Air agreements with Iceland are nothing new of course. Some may recall when Caribbean Airways wet-leased a B707-320 from Air Atlanta Icelandic (AAI) in 1986 to operate the Gatwick/Barbados route. From that first contract, AAI went on to become one of the world’s largest specialists in aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance provision.

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3 Comments on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – Air Services Agreement Creates Opportunities”

  1. David October 18, 2015 at 5:58 PM #

    Flights to the Caribbean are about to change big time

    Flights to the Caribbean are about to change big time October 18, 2015 by Dan Taylor Leave a Comment U.S. airlines are betting big on the Caribbean and Latin America — and here’s why.Overseas travel to the Caribbean and Latin America…


  2. Due Diligence October 18, 2015 at 6:24 PM #

    For Americans, the strong dollar is helping to drive down the prices for their trips to Latin America. The exchange rate is very favorable, meaning that travelers will get much more on their dollar than they would hat home, especially with many countries going through a recession.

    The strong dollar benefit applies to the destinations where the local currency floats (down) against the US Dollar


  3. Islandflyer October 20, 2015 at 8:13 AM #

    Here is why an air services agreement with Iceland, based on the above article, is about as useful as a trade agreement with the Republic of Vanuatu.
    On the question of who could operate the route (BGI-KEF) – Icelandair would have absolutely no economic or operational reason to deploy any of its new 767-300ER’s on a Caribbean excursion. Airlines don’t invest millions of dollars in new equipment (even if the aircraft is leased) on a ‘whim & a fancy’ (well, the CAL experience back to London is a very special case, but that is another saga entirely) – they analyse and project the long term viability very carefully, because not only does it take lots and lots of money, but the overall image of the brand needs to be protected (well, CAL to London was.. um, never mind). Now, let’s play with numbers: assuming the aircrafts are for the heavily travelled twice daily KEF-LHR route replacing the iconic 757 (183 seats), that is a 43% increase of capacity, up to 524 seats daily into London. Flight time between KEF and LHR is 3 hours, so a single rotation of approximately 8 hours per aircraft would leave Icelandair with another 12 hours of useful operational time – maybe on the planned new Chicago (16 March) or Montreal (16 May) runs at 5 hours and 6.5 hours one way respectively.
    And then there is WOW Air. Adrian, you disappoint me, to have included WOW Air, and specifically the A321 as their long range option. This airline is a low cost carrier, picking up leisure traffic around Europe. They will certainly not be interested in sending an A321-200 (range 3000nm) to Barbados (distance 3418nm).
    Now, if greater European links is what we are after, what about a seasonal stopover from carriers that already fly in this area, like Iberia to Madrid shared with Bogota, Colombia, or Havana, Cuba; Lufthansa to Frankfurt shared with Panama City (starting March 2016), or Air France to Paris via Martinique using their Caribbean connection feeder from Cayenne?


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