Icelandic startup PLAY’s launch network revealed

The Reykjavik-based airline plans to serve seven destinations in Europe, with flights beginning in late June.

Tickets have gone on sale for the first flights to be operated by PLAY, the Icelandic carrier being launched by a team of former executives from WOW Air.

The startup’s inaugural route will connect Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) with London Stansted (STN) from June 23 using Airbus A321neo aircraft. Flights will initially be 2X-weekly before increasing to 4X-weekly from July 1.

A total of seven destinations in Europe will make up the airline’s launch network, three of which are in Spain. From June 28, PLAY plans to serve Tenerife South (TFS) before adding Alicante (ALC) on July 12 and Barcelona (BCN) on July 15. All three Spanish routes will be 2X-weekly. 

The other destinations joining the LCC’s network are Berlin (({BER}}) from July 1, Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) from July 14, and Copenhagen (CPH) from July 21. The routes to BER and CDG will each be served 4X-weekly, while Denmark’s capital will receive two flights per week.

PLAY’s network plans come just days after the carrier was granted its air operator’s certificate (AOC) from the Icelandic Transport Authority ICETRA—almost two years after details about the carrier’s proposed launch first emerged.

The airline, initially known as WAB air before rebranding to PLAY in November 2019, intends to operate a fleet of six A321 aircraft, growing to 10 within three years. 

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“We have the best people who have shown tremendous strength over a period of almost two years,” CEO Birgir Jónsson said. “It is a long time which we have used well to prepare the low-cost airline for a turnaround in tourism in Iceland.”

Jónsson was previously the CEO of Iceland Express and later deputy CEO of WOW air. He is joined on the company’s leadership team by CCO Arnar Magnússon, a former WOW air chief pilot and one of the founders of PLAY, and CFO Thora Eggertsdottir, formerly at Icelandair.

Other executives include chief network officer Daníel Snæbjörnsson, previously VP of network planning at WOW air; chief people officer Jónína Guðmundsdóttir, the former VP of HR at WOW air; and CCO Georg Haraldsson, who has worked for Iceland Express and was latterly at Posturinn, Iceland’s national postal service.

According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, all seven destinations being launched by PLAY were previously served by WOW air prior to its collapse. The latest schedules data shows that PLAY will this summer be the only operator of flights from KEF to ALC, BER, STN and TFS.

Vueling Airlines serves KEF-BCN; Icelandair and SAS Scandinavian Airlines serve KEF-CPH; and Icelandair serves KEF-CDG. Although there is no direct competition, the Reykjavik-London market is also well-served, with British Airways, easyJet, Icelandair and Wizz Air UK each offering flights between the cities. 

LCC WOW air was founded in 2011 and grew rapidly by pursuing a transatlantic connecting strategy. However, the airline ceased all operations in March 2019 after two potential investors walked away from a rescue deal.

Photo credit: PLAY