Icelandair Grows Eastbound Network With Tel Aviv Service

The airline will target connecting traffic from points in the US and Canada.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Tel Aviv will become the most easterly point in Icelandair’s network once flights to the Israeli city start during the northern summer 2023 season.

The carrier plans to open a route between Reykjavik Keflavik (KEF) and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) on May 10, operating three times per week through Oct. 29. Service will be on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays using Boeing 737-8 aircraft, with a flight time of about seven hours.

At 5,275 km (2,848 nm), the route will be the sixth farthest in the airline’s network by distance and Tel Aviv will become its sole destination in the Middle East.

“Tel Aviv is an exciting new destination, a perfect fit to our business model and allows us to offer convenient connections between Israel and North America,” Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason said. “It is also a great addition to the diverse destinations available for our home market, to and from Iceland, with an interesting mix of culture, history and sunny beaches.”

OAG data shows that the Iceland-Israel market was previously served nonstop by defunct Icelandic LCC WOW Air, which operated 3X-weekly KEF-TLV flights from September 2017 until October 2018 using Airbus A321 equipment.

The sector then remained unserved until Israeli carrier Israir picked up the route during summer 2022, offering two flights per week in July and August using 737-800s.

Looking at data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, there were 19,425 one-way passengers from Reykjavik to Israel during 2018 when the KEF-TLV route was served for 10 months by WOW. About 93% of traffic was local, with the remaining originating at points in North America.

With 15 routes from Reykjavik to destinations in the US and Canada planned for the summer 2023 season—including a new service to Detroit (DTW)—Icelandair will be targeting connecting flows from North America, as well as point-to-point traffic.

The airline’s entry to the market comes as nonstop North America-Israel capacity continues to increase. There were about 1.6 million two-way seats available during the summer 2022 season, compared with 1.49 million during summer 2019.

The latest schedules suggest that airlines intend to offer 1.77 million nonstop seats during summer 2023. Among the carriers that are adding capacity is Delta Air Lines, which will launch a 3X-weekly Atlanta (ATL)-Tel Aviv route in March 2023.