PLAY Halts Orlando Plans Due To Fuel Costs

The 3X-weekly route was due to start in September but will not go ahead as previously proposed.

Credit: PLAY/Bjarki Johannsson

High fuel prices have forced Icelandic carrier PLAY to readjust its network and fleet plans for the summer 2022 season.

The airline has canceled the launch of a route from its Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) base to Orlando (MCO), which was due to operate three times per week from Sept. 30. It has also opted against leasing an Airbus A321LR aircraft as previously planned.

Instead, PLAY will lease an A320neo “at more favorable terms, thus securing an even lower cost base in the long term.” The leisure carrier’s fleet this summer will therefore consist of three A321neos and three A320neos.

PLAY launched operations in June 2021 and has been steadily ramping up capacity and the number of routes offered. So far in May, flights to Prague (PRG), Boston (BOS), Lisbon (LIS), Gothenburg (GOT) and Brussels (BRU) have started.

Service to Stavanger (SVG), Malaga (AGP) and Trondheim (TRD) will begin before the end of the month, followed by Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Bologna (BLQ) and New York Stewart (SWF) in June.

As such, the total number of seats on sale in the second quarter of 2022 will be 167% more than the company offered in the first quarter of 2022. This expanded network will result in improved utilization of aircraft and other resources, the airline said.

“As we close the first quarter of 2022, we see and feel a growing demand in the market and a great response to our new destinations,” CEO Birgir Jónsson said.

“PLAY will start operations to 12 new destinations in Europe and the US in May and June. This means that in summer 2022, PLAY will serve 26 destinations on both sides of the Atlantic, so it is safe to say that we have some very exciting times ahead.”

PLAY has carried about 230,000 passengers to date with around 60,000 traveling during the first three months of 2022. Cash and cash equivalents on March 31 amounted to $42.1 million.

The airline also said it has started the process of implementing a fuel-hedging policy. An agreement has been made with Skeljungur.

“A first conservative step has been taken in implementing the policy, and the volatile economic and world situation will be continued to be monitored closely for further steps to be taken,” PLAY said in a statement.

“However, the fuel surcharge put in place in March manages to mitigate a notable portion of the fuel price increase.”