How Iceland’s PLAY Is Cautiously Filling The Gap Left By WOW

What a week it has been for Iceland’s startup, PLAY. It received its air operator’s certificate on May…

How Iceland’s PLAY Is Cautiously Filling The Gap Left By WOW

What a week it has been for Iceland’s startup, PLAY. It received its air operator’s certificate on May 16th, and today, two days later, it put on sale its first seven routes from Keflavik. Alicante is unserved, while Stansted effectively is too. PLAY fills the gap left by the loss of WOW and others, although the startup is sensibly very cautious.

PLAY will see no head-to-head competition to Alicante. Likewise London Stansted except for two round-trips later in the year by Jet2. Image: PLAY.

While most of PLAY’s initial routes launch in July, London Stansted begins on June 24th, followed by Tenerife South five days later. London is helped by Iceland being on England’s green list.

  1. Alicante: twice-weekly
  2. Barcelona: twice-weekly
  3. Berlin: four-weekly
  4. Copenhagen: initially twice-weekly and then doubling
  5. London Stansted: initially twice-weekly and then doubling
  6. Paris CDG: four-weekly
  7. Tenerife South: twice-weekly

PLAY, which has $50 million in funding and plans an initial public offering (IPO) for further growth, would not exist had WOW not ended. Indeed, WOW served all the routes from Keflavik that PLAY has put on sale. Despite this and some staffing crossovers, the two carriers are much more separate than many would realize.

WOW served all the destinations that PLAY has announced in either 2018 and/or 2019. Photo: Airbus.

All but one route is already served

Six of PLAY’s initial seven routes are or will be served by other airlines this year. Only Alicante will have no head-to-head competition. Despite this competition, their capacity totals ‘just’ 598,000 seats this year, analyzing schedules data provided by airlines to OAG, down by almost 740,000 versus pre-pandemic 2019. The loss of WOW is key to this.

  1. Alicante: no head-to-head competition
  2. Barcelona: Icelandair (once-weekly) and Vueling (up to four-weekly)
  3. Berlin: Icelandair (up to nine-weekly)
  4. Copenhagen: Icelandair (up to 28-weekly) and SAS (up to nine-weekly)
  5. London Stansted: Jet2 (just two round-trips in October/November)
  6. Paris CDG: Icelandair (up to 14-weekly)
  7. Tenerife: Icelandair (twice-weekly)

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With PLAY beginning Tenerife and additional flights by others, this market is up fourfold over 2019. Image: PLAY

Stansted is virtually unserved

Stansted is one of four London airports served from Keflavik this year, down from five in 2019 from the loss of BA CityFlyer from London City. Stansted, which was last served in March 2019 by easyJet, is back this year with PLAY. It’ll be the only carrier on the route until October, and even then Jet2’s two round-trips barely count.

The peak for Stansted came in 2018 when three carriers – easyJet, Primera, and WOW – all served it with a combined 88,414 passengers, the UK CAA shows. It is virtually a ready-made unserved market.

Meanwhile, Alicante, like Tenerife, is for point-to-point vacation reasons from Iceland. It is normally served – and has been for many, many years – because it is a classic destination for Icelanders. Indeed, two airlines operated it non-stop in pre-pandemic 2019. It, too, is effectively ready-made.

When combined, these seven routes had 1.35 million two-way seats from Keflavik in 2019. They had over one-fifth (22%) of Keflavik’s European capacity. The large rise and subsequent decline was from the entrance and end of WOW. Note: as Berlin now has only one airport, Tegel and Schönefeld have been included for previous years. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer

Just two flights down from 2019 level

Looking at a week in mid-August, the seven routes will have a combined 86 weekly departures across PLAY and all competing carriers, as the table below indicates. This is down by just two flights versus the same week in 2019. With seven departures, Barcelona is unchanged, while Stansted is up – and Tenerife has increased nearly fourfold.

Keflavik to...Departures in a mid-August week in 2018And in 2019And in 2021
Alicante832
Barcelona1177
Berlin1696
Copenhagen434538
London Stansted704
Paris CDG262118
Tenerife South4311

It’s a somewhat different picture compared to 2018, though, when WOW was in full swing and airlines had responded to the threat it posed with more flights. Then, these seven routes had 115 departures, meaning they’re down by one-quarter over the peak.

Will you fly PLAY? If so, what route would you choose? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Cruise Ship Charters Behind Newark – Malta Lufthansa A350 Flights

This summer, Lufthansa is set to fly its Airbus A350 between Newark and Malta. According to several sources,…

Cruise Ship Charters Behind Newark – Malta Lufthansa A350 Flights

This summer, Lufthansa is set to fly its Airbus A350 between Newark and Malta. According to several sources, it seems that the A350 will be roped in for charter flights to ferry Viking Cruise passengers across the Atlantic ocean.

This summer Lufthansa’s Airbus A350s will be spotted flying between Newark and Malta. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

It’s not unusual for Lufthansa’s Airbus A350 aircraft to fly to Malta. Despite the short distance of such a flight, the airline has a Lufthansa Technik maintenance base on the island. This sees all sorts of maintenance activities undertaken. One of the airline’s A350s, D-AIXJ, was recently transformed into a climate research plane at the site.

Flying from Newark to Malta

According to One Mile At A Time, Lufthansa is set to fly its Airbus A350 aircraft from Malta to Newark this summer. Up to three times a week over the summer, the airline’s A350 aircraft will operate the following flights,

  • LH489 – Newark (EWR) 20:45 – Malta (MLA) 11:25+1 – Airbus A350-900 – 08h40m
  • LH488 – Malta (MLA) 15:15 – Newark (EWR) 19:00 – Airbus A350-900 – 09h45m

This may seem like an incredibly odd routing for a German carrier’s Airbus A350’s, but when the pieces are put together, it all makes sense. Twitter user @xJonNYC managed to put the pieces together to realize that the flights are actually charter flights to support the operation of Viking Ocean Cruises this summer. It seems that the flights are scheduled to coincide with the sailing date of ships from the island.

Lufthansa, Newark, Malta
The flights will be operated as charter services for Viking Cruises. Photo: Viking Cruises

This was confirmed by a Lufthansa spokesperson, who told Simple Flying,

“Lufthansa plans to offer a series of flights this summer between New York (Newark Airport) and Malta in conjunction with a large cruise company which will operate cruises in the Mediterranean.”

At the moment, it seems as though Lufthansa will only offer these flights to those booked onto a Viking Ocean Crusie this summer, meaning that others planning to fly to the island will likely need to do so via the airline’s Frankfurt hub.

Frankfurt Airport, Passenger Traffic, Cargo Volume
Ordinary Lufthansa passengers flying from New York to Malta will likely still have to change in Frankfurt. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Not the first Lufthansa A350 charter

Interestingly, this is not the first time Lufthansa’s Airbus A350 fleet has been called upon for charter flights this year. Earlier this year, the airline operated two non-stop flights from Hamburg to the Falkland Islands. With the flights, the airline was able to break its longest-ever flight record not once but twice. The current record now stands at 15 hours and 45 minutes.

The flights were necessitated by the ongoing pandemic, meaning that crew heading to the Polarstern research vessel could not use the usual means of transport. To avoid importing COVID-19 to the Falkland Islands and the ship, all crew and passengers from the flight had to quarantine for 14 days in Hamburg before departing for the adventure.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s strange Airbus A350 routing? Would you want to fly to Malta for a cruise this summer? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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