Late last year, United Airlines announced several new nonstop European routes from Newark Liberty International, one being a seasonal nonstop service to the small Nordic region of Iceland. Boasting some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery in the world, this new route will allow for more people to experience this incredible and rugged country firsthand. However, not everything about this new announcement is ultimately good news.
United’s new service to Iceland is expected to commence on May 23rd and continue through October 4th, allowing visitors a chance to experience Iceland in the summer months. The route will be flown by the Boeing 757, and flight time from New York will be 5 hours and 40 minutes eastbound, and 6 hours 10 minutes westbound. The flight information is scheduled as followed:
Two Icelandic-based carriers, including Icelandair and the discount carrier WOW Air, already serve many North American and European destinations from their hub in Keflavik. In addition, Delta Air Lines also has a daily nonstop route to Iceland from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Competition will increase even more this summer as United begins this new service.
However, despite the fact that United’s new service to Iceland will make this beautiful country more accessible for tourism from North America, it is in question whether or not Reykjavik and the rest of the country will be able to accommodate this potential influx of tourists as a result of this large amount of service to the small island nation.
Ever since the late 1900’s and early 2000’s, tourism in Iceland has been on the rise. Recently, as a result of the increased accessibility from many new flights, as well as many routes flown by low-cost carrier WOW Air, Iceland has become easily accessible and financially feasible for millions across North America and Europe.
“In our first year in 1994 we had about 50,000 guests, and this year we will be welcoming 1.3 million” says Grimur Sæmundsen, the chief executive of Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular tourist spots just outside of Reykjavik.
It is largely questioned whether or not this country will be able to successfully support the growing numbers of tourists, however in it’s history, tourism has been proven to have significantly benefited the country’s economy.
The sudden increase in tourism in Iceland came around the time when the country’s 3 major banks collapsed in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. The increase in tourism ultimately led to a construction boom and the creation of thousands of jobs, which helped the Icelandic economy rebound significantly.
Whether or not the Nordic country will be able to sustain this tourism boom, United and other airlines have ultimately opened up this country to easily allow millions of people from around the world to experience one of the most beautiful places on the planet for themselves, something that wasn’t possible for most people just a decade ago.