Icelandic start-up PLAY secures Air Operator Certificate, launches route to Stansted, mulls new destinations

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PLAY Airbus A321neo

The new Icelandic airline, PLAY, has secured its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), is preparing to get its first Airbus A321neo, announces London Stansted as the first destination from 24 June and looks ahead with new destinations and aircraft coming.

Play, the new airline launched by key people of the ex-Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) WOW air, first named “WAB air” before changing its name into “PLAY”, had requested its AOC in 2019.

It seems that now, this attempt is the good one: PLAY has received an Air Operator Certificate from the Icelandic Transport Authority ICETRA, the airline announced on Sunday.

PLAY is the first airline among the 2 projects to “take the skies”, the other project being WOW air under its old name but with other investors, that hasn’t succeeded to launch yet. WOW air under its original name and investors, was active till March 2019 before its bankruptcy, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in North America and Europe, operating from and to its big hub of Keflavik, in Iceland with Airbus A320(neo) family aircraft.

TF-AEW is the first aircraft to be operated by the airline, an Airbus A321neo, leased from AerCap. It was flying with InterJet before they stopped operations as well. It was registered XA-JIL (MSN 8008) and is expected to arrive in early June in Iceland.

Andri Geir Eyjólfsson, Head of Technical Department and Halldór Guðfinnsson & Friðrik Ottesen, pilots, have taken over the aircraft.

The airline said that many aircraft technicians and ICETRA representatives went to Houston this week, where the aircraft is, worked on an audit of it. Arnar Már Magnússon, one of PLAY founders and COO, told they had problems with the process. The aircraft was finally registered to the Icelandic authorities late last night, is currently undergoing maintenance and is to be painted under the red shaped livery of PLAY soon.

With this first aircraft, PLAY is going to operate its first flight from Reykjavik-Keflavik on 24 June, straight to London Stansted. The exact schedule is not yet available. London Stansted was also one of the destinations of the old-Keflavik based airline WOW air. Birgur Jónsson, PLAY CEO said: “Well, I mean in terms of the UK, we’re going to Stansted. That’s a low-cost airport, and it has worked well in the past. The Icelandic passengers know it and it works well.”

The carrier should start very soon its booking system for destinations such as London Stansted, Copenhagen (a strong destination for Iceland), Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Alicante & Tenerife. The CEO said the initial network “will be quite traditional, to begin with.”

Jónsson told the airline wants to offer “competitive prices and a simple journey” and is a needed addition to the Icelandic aviation market.

He added that “there will be similarities (with WOW air), but PLAY won’t stray away from its low-cost model.”

The start-up is “to focus on its core markets and stick to the basics to ensure that it can offer competitive prices.”

Two other aircraft, also A321neo, are expected during the Summer. The CEO added: “It is going to be painted so we will receive it here in Iceland during the first days of June, to be ready for the first inaugural flight on the 24th. Then, we will have a second one in early July, and the third around the middle of July.”

These A321neos are also from InterJet, registered XA-NEO (MSN 7945) & XA-JOE (MSN 7939).

WOW air, the other project, seems to be far away from a launch and not be ready to take off soon.

Sources :

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  1. Icelandic start-up PLAY secures Air Operator Certificate, launches route to Stansted, mulls new destinations PLAY, has secured its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), is preparing to get its first Airbus A321neo, announces London Stansted as.

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