Low-Cost Airline PLAY To Fly A Million People From US To Europe In 2023

The low-cost, long-haul airline business is a tough one. The airline world is littered with the carcasses of airlines that tried to fly hordes of people thousands of miles at affordable prices. But so far, new low-cost airline PLAY is on course to fly more than a million people between North America and Europe, via Iceland, and maybe even make an operational profit.

With its strategic location between North America and Europe, Iceland is an ideal stopover point for relatively short flights between the two continents. Iceland is also, of course, a destination in itself.

What makes PLAY stand out from existing competitors and previous failures? PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson points to “a hub-and-spoke model that connects passengers between North America, Iceland, and Europe. All PLAY flights stopover in Iceland before continuing on to the U.S. or Europe, in order to collect travelers between destinations to fill flights. The hub-and-spoke model enables PLAY to provide convenient service and affordable fares.”

PLAY offers service to Iceland and over 30 European destinations (including Berlin, Paris, Venice, Warsaw, Prague, Stockholm, London, Madrid and Lisbon) from five major East Coasts markets. PLAY flies from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), New York Stewart International Airport (SWF), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Toronto (YHM). In terms of frequency, PLAY operates daily flights from BOS, BWI, IAD, and SWF to Iceland, with connections on to European destinations.

PLAY recently passed its one-year mark of U.S. operations. The airline will release its Q2 results later this week.

According to a spokesperson, so far this year its East Coast routes helped increased PLAY’s passenger load to over 604,000 people, up 154% compared to the first half of 2022. As of June 2023, PLAY’s load factor was 82.4%. The load factor for June alone was 87.2%, with the airline flying over 160,000 passengers.

PLAY says it has maintained an 84% on time arrival rate in 2023. Meanwhile, the airline says it has expanded its fleet to ten aircraft, launched 20 new destinations, and hired 200 new employees to keep up with increased travel demand. According to CEO Jónsson, PLAY is on track to becoming operationally profitable in 2023.

Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, PLAY operates a fleet of 10 Airbus A320 and A321 neo aircraft. If you fly PLAY, don’t look for Business, First Class or Premium Economy seating. As a true low-cost airline, PLAY operates all-economy aircraft.

For a low-cost carrier, it’s all about the fares. Although airline fares have soared this summer, PLAY still has some attractive deals.

For example, a roundtrip fare on Play from the New York area to Reykjavik in September and October starts at just $286. The fare comes with some asterisks. The New York airport is not JFK or Newark, but Stewart, an ex-military base a 90-minute express bus ride from Manhattan. The airport, a favorite of low-cost international start-ups, was formerly used by Norwegian Airlines.

As for the $286 fare itself, that’s for PLAY basic. Like major airlines with Basic Economy, the not-so-hidden goal is to get you to upgrade. PLAY basic includes fare and taxes and one personal item.

The one-way PLAY basic fare from NY to Iceland on September 26 is $143.20, which includes fare, taxes and one personal item.

PLAY value on the same flight is $237.50, which gets you fare, taxes, one personal item, priority boarding, a carry-on bag, a 20-kilog (44 pounds) checked bag and seat selection in the middle to back of the plane. PLAY flex ($335.64) on this flight gets you all this, plus a slightly larger checked bag (23kg), seat selection throughout the plane (excluding XL legroom seats) and “flight flexibility.”

Once you get to Iceland, you can get to London for as little as $127, or Copenhagen for $155 round trip, PLAY basic.

CEO Jónsson says “We carefully choose the destinations we serve, flying out of smaller, more convenient airports such as New York Stewart International Airport, over more populated destinations.” Similarly, “With our no-frills approach to travel, passengers can customize their flight experience with PLAY Bundles that enable passengers to make the most of their travel budget by selecting the add-ons they need.”

PLAY is publicly listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market Iceland as PLAY.IC. According to CEO Jónsson, the company has ownership from over two thousand shareholders.

We asked CEO Jónsson,Considering COVID and rising oil prices, why did you push to launch a new low-cost airline, considering how many low-cost airlines have failed?”

“The pandemic was a rare opportunity for a successful launch and presented an opportunity for growth as PLAY was able to secure brand new Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO aircraft at a favorable price. PLAY was also able to access specialists and travel experts who were able to join the company right away without having to be bought out from their positions with other airlines.”

Jónsson added, “Despite increases in oil prices, PLAY continued to see a massive pent-up appetite for travel following the pandemic. While rising oil prices had some impact, PLAY was able to keep prices low enough that they did not impact transatlantic travel plans.”

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/646245182/Wq6Glifu6bdKxOKH?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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