Direct Flights to Asia Explored

Vala Hafstað

It’s not a question of whether direct flights will be offered between Iceland and Asia. The question is when, Sveinbjörn Indriðason, CEO of Isavia, the company that operates Keflavík International Airport, tells Morgunblaðið.

Sveinbjörn discusses how the company reacts to a reduction of nearly two and a half million in the number of passengers going through the airport in one year.

A changed environment in the wake of the bankruptcy of WOW Air in the spring has led Isavia to revise its incentive system in an effort to encourage flight connections with Asia and North America.

“We’re updating the [incentive] system to make it more effective if an airline opens a new route from places outside Europe,” Sveinbjörn states. The focus is mainly on possibilities in the US and Asia.

“WOW demonstrated that these markets exist,” he adds. What matters is not whether Icelandair or another airline seizes the opportunity; creating the flight connection is essential.

Isavia has met with representatives from various airlines lately, introducing opportunities involved in meeting this need. Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason recently announced at a conference that Icelandair has been looking into the possibility of direct flights to Asia for several years.

For the first six months of the year, Isavia lost ISK 942 million (USD 7.56 million; 6.88 million). Sveinbjörn expects a slight loss by the end of the year. A positive sign is that income per passenger at the airport is up from before, mainly because Icelandair has increasingly emphasized bringing passengers to and from Iceland, instead of focusing on transit passengers. Fewer passengers at the airport mean shorter lines, which may cause passengers to purchase more.

About 7.3 million passengers are expected to go through Keflavík International Airport this year, compared to 9.8 million last year.

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