In December of 2012, Icelandair Group and Boeing signed an agreement for sixteen new 737 MAX 8 to be delivered to the airline by 2018. Last week, the first 737 MAX 8 was unveiled at Boeing Field wearing the Icelandair colors. Some claim that Icelandair is using the MAX 8 to re-brand its livery, while others believe the main purpose of the MAX 8 is to replace routes served by the Boeing 757, and to open up more destinations in Europe.
With the Icelandic carrier being based midway between Europe and North America in Keflavík, the airline plans to use the new MAX for short to medium range flights to both continents. Icelandair will most likely be replacing their 757-200’s on existing routes, or using the MAX on new routes. The airline plans to first use the MAX on short-haul routes to European cities such as Bergen and Paris-Orly, and eventually expand serice to North America. While Icelandair can not opperate some of their longest U.S. routes currently opperated by their Boeing 757’s and 767’s, the MAX can still operate most of their route network.
According to routesonline.com, the airline plans to use the MAX to service the following destinations by this spring:
- Berlin as of March 19, 2018
- Paris Orly as of May 1, 2018
- Birmingham as of May 2, 2018
- Hamburg as of May 3, 2018
- Billund as of May 7, 2018
- Cleveland as of May 16, 2018
- Philadelphia as of May 22, 2018
- Amsterdam as of May 24, 2018
- Stockholm as of June 1, 2018
- Halifax as of June 2, 2018
Recently, Icelandair has been in fierce competition by the other prominent Icelandic carrier WOW Air. Icelandiar has always been set on providing passengers with service through Keflavik to many European destinations, even offering passengers a free night in Reykjavik when they stopover in the country. Now, Icelandair has been forced to compete with WOW, the ultra low-cost carrier that has been expanding rapidly throughout Europe and the United States from its hub in Keflavik as well. WOW has the clear advantage over Icelandair in that their new Airbus A321neo is capable of flying routes up to 9 hours, longer than Icelandair’s new 737 MAX.
When the MAX is delivered to Icelandair, it will be the smallest in the fleet, among the Boeing 757-200, 757-300, and 767-300ER aircrafts. Currently, the company’s first 737 MAX at Boeing Field has not been fitted with seats, and Icelandair has stated that seats will be added after the aircraft is flown to Keflavík in the next few weeks.
Icelandair’s set map currently shows their MAX 8 containing a total of 156 seats: 16 Saga Class seats, 12 Economy Comfort seats, and 128 Economy seats.