Mixing Business with Beats, Play CEO Rejoins Metal Band Dimma

CEO of Play Birgir Jónsson rejoins Dimma

The CEO of the airline Play has announced his intention to rejoin the heavy metal band Dimma. His musical endeavours will, however, not affect his position at Play.

All work, all Play

Birgir Jónsson, CEO of the Icelandic airline Play, has decided to rejoin his old colleagues in the heavy metal band Dimma. Birgir, a drummer with experience in multiple bands, departed from Dimma in 2018 after being with the group since 2011.

“Life is strange and beautiful,” Birgir wrote in a Facebook post published earlier today. “I was offered the opportunity to rejoin my old mates in Dimma. Despite being very busy at work, I decided to go for it. We plan to play five to six concerts this year.”

Despite this decision, Birgir stressed that it would not impact his role as CEO of Play: “To clear up any doubts, I am definitely not leaving Play as it is my dream job.”

Dimma was founded in the early aughts by Icelandic brothers Ingólfur “Ingó” and Sigurður “Silli” Geirdal. The band has released six studio albums. Below, you will find a video of Birgir performing with Dimma at a 2014 concert at the Harpa Music and Conference Hall in Reykjavík.

As reported yesterday, PLAY has added two new destinations to their scheduled flights, Madeira in Portugal and Marrakesh in Morocco. The latter will be the first-ever destination in Africa for scheduled flights to and from Iceland.

First Ever Scheduled Flights from Iceland to Africa

iceland budget airline play

The airline PLAY has added two new destinations to their scheduled flights, Madeira in Portugal and Marrakesh in Morocco. The latter will be the first ever destination in Africa for scheduled flights to and from Iceland, Viðskiptablaðið reports.

The first flight to Madeira will be on October 15 this year and scheduled flights will take place once a week on Tuesdays. Flights to Marrakesh will begin on October 17, scheduled twice a week for Thursdays and Sundays.

Sunny destinations

“We continue to increase our options of destinations for Icelanders looking to bask in the sun and our schedule for Southern Europe is one of the most varied ever offered in Iceland,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO of PLAY. “We have eight destinations in Spain and now three in Portugal. What’s more, we’ve added the enchanting city of Marrakesh to our schedule and I have full faith that Icelanders will welcome these first ever scheduled flights between Iceland and Africa.”

PLAY Hits Funding Target with ISK 4 Billion in Share Commitments

iceland budget airline play

The Icelandic airline PLAY has secured share subscription commitments totalling ISK 4 billion ($29 million / €27 million), meeting its target before the annual general meeting scheduled for March 21, 2024. Additionally, the airline is advancing its listing to the Nasdaq Main Market in Iceland and planning a public offering to further bolster its capital.

Commitments pending approval at annual general meeting

In a press release yesterday, the Icelandic airline PLAY announced that it had secured new share subscription commitments totalling ISK 1.4 billion ($10 million / €9 million), bringing the total commitments to approximately ISK 4 billion ($29 million / €27 million). This achievement marks the fulfilment of the company’s target ahead of its annual general meeting, which is scheduled for March 21, 2024.

(A share subscription commitment means that investors have pledged or committed to buying a specific number of shares from the airline at a predetermined price before those shares are officially issued or made available to the public.)

The additional funds raised through these commitments come on the heels of previously announced commitments worth around ISK 2.6 billion ($19 million / €18 million). The final approval for increasing the company’s equity by this amount is now pending before the shareholders at the upcoming annual general meeting. The shares have been priced at a subscription rate of 4.5 ISK each.

To further enhance its capital base, PLAY’s board of directors is set to propose an additional public offering aimed at raising the equivalent of ISK 1.2 billion ($9 million / €8 million), also at a subscription price of 4.5 ISK per share. This offering will prioritise current shareholders in the event of an oversubscription. Notably, this forthcoming offering is exempt from the standard requirement of publishing a prospectus.

Listing upgraded to the Nasdaq Main Market

Amid these developments, the announcement also states that PLAY is making headway in its plans to upgrade its listing to the Nasdaq Main Market in Iceland, with expectations of concluding the process by the end of the second quarter. Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Fly Play hf., expressed his enthusiasm for the investor confidence shown in the airline’s equity raise.

“It has been a true pleasure to witness the positive reaction that investors have shown our equity raise. With the commitments we have now secured, in addition to the commitments from our largest shareholders already announced, PLAY has now secured new equity in the amount of ISK 4 billion. This number may be further increased following the public offering that is planned following the authorization from the company’s Annual General Meeting in March.

This equity raise substantially strengthens the company’s financial position and allows it to execute exciting growth opportunities and/or handle unexpected events. This is an important milestone for our good company and its employees. It is fascinating to experience how professionalism among the company employees is further enhanced. The group’s ambition is really special, and it is a privilege to work with this powerful group of PLAYers.”

14 Pilots Exit Play for Icelandair Amid Global Talent Scramble

iceland budget airline play

Fourteen pilots from budget airline Play have resigned to join competitor Icelandair amid a global pilot shortage and rising wages. While acknowledging the challenge of retaining pilots, Play insists that the departures won’t impact operations and emphasizes its ongoing efforts to offer competitive salaries and benefits.

Hiring and retaining pilots a challenge

Fourteen pilots from budget airline Play have tendered their resignations after receiving job offers from industry competitor Icelandair, according to a press release from Play this morning, Vísir reports. The airline highlights a global shortage and fierce competition for qualified pilots, acknowledging that this has inflated salaries and complicated recruitment efforts.

‘Earlier this summer, it became apparent that rising wages due to competition would make it challenging to hire and retain pilots. As a result, we initiated an internal review of our pilot salaries and working conditions,” the press release noted.

Yesterday, news broke that Icelandair approached Play’s pilots with swift job offers, compelling them to make immediate decisions. “PLAY was not privy to the details of the offers due to the customary confidentiality between parties, but we received 14 resignations from pilots yesterday. While it’s always painful to lose valued team members, these departures will not significantly impact our operations or flight schedules,” the press release added.

Vísir reported yesterday that 18 pilots from Play were directly approached by Icelandair. In response, Play convened a meeting with these pilots on Wednesday evening.

According to Turisti.is, Play pilots earn a base salary of ISK 590,000 ($4,500 / €4,200), significantly lower than Icelandair’s ISK 860,000 ($6,500 / €6,000); Play subsequently offered their pilots a substantial salary increase yesterday, Vísir reports.

Complex factors in wage dynamics

In its press release, Play emphasised that pilot compensation is multifaceted and not easily comparable to other professions. “Recent reports, which are baseless, suggest this will dramatically affect our cost structure … but the impact on unit costs is negligible,” the press release clarified.

Play also took the opportunity to underscore its consistent efforts to improve employee compensation and conditions, extending beyond pilots to include flight attendants and other staff. “We would not have been able to retain our workforce if our packages were egregiously uncompetitive, as is sometimes insinuated,” the release noted.

The airline touted its role in generating approximately 550 new jobs in Iceland’s labour market within just over two years, and its contribution to reviving tourism and reducing travel costs. “Moving forward, Play is committed to offering competitive conditions to attract and retain top-tier talent as we build a company of which we can all be proud,” the statement concluded.

PLAY Adds Frankfurt Connection

iceland budget airline play

Icelandic budget airliner PLAY is opening a new connection to Frankfurt, Germany.

The first PLAY flight to Frankfurt will be on December 14th, and it will operate four to five times a week throughout the winter.

In a press release, PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson stated: “It’s fantastic to be able to further enhance our connecting flight network, especially when there is a high demand for transatlantic flights from North America. Revenues from passengers coming from North America are much higher than before, making it a good time to increase our offerings in that market. With ten aircraft in the youngest fleet in Europe, we are well-prepared to expand our route system and generate revenues in good balance with costs.”

Frankfurt is the fourth destination for PLAY in Germany, as the company already operates flights year-round to Berlin and plans to have flights to Düsseldorf and Hamburg in the summer.

 

Icelandair Must Reimburse Passenger for Legroom

Keflavík airport Icelandair

In a June decision by the Norwegian Transportation Authority, Icelandair is obligated to reimburse a passenger for legroom that he did not receive. RÚV reports.

The passenger in question booked a flight from Reykjavík to Oslo in September of last year. He lodged a complaint with the Norwegian Transportation Authority when, due to technical reasons, Icelandair had to switch aircraft. In the following rearrangement of seats, the passenger did not receive the legroom that he had paid some 2,300 ISK [$17, €16] for.

Read more: Icelandair’s Airbus Order Largest Transaction in Airline’s History

Worldwide, airlines generate significant revenue from the sale of similar add-ons, known as ancillaries, including extra legroom, preferred seating, and priority boarding. The practice of “un-bundling” services from the ticket price has become increasingly common in the airline industry. In 2011, global ancillary revenue in the airline industry accounted for 32.5 billion USD [€29.7 billion]. In 2022, that figure had risen to 102.8 billion USD [€93.8 billion], a 216% increase over the course of a decade.

The passenger demanded that Icelandair reimburse him the amount, but the airline refused, stating that these were non-refundable privileges according to the terms and conditions.

However, in the recent Norwegian ruling, it was stated that this provision applies only if the passenger changes their mind. In this case, the airline changed the aircraft, and the passenger could not be held responsible.

Although airlines are not required to abide by the ruling, most comply with the decisions of the body.

Icelandair June Flights Up 20% From Last Year

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Icelandair saw 519,000 passengers in June of 2023. This figure represents a 20% increase over June of last year, when Icelandair served some 431,000 passengers.

The first half of 2023 has seen some 1.8 million passengers fly with the Icelandic airline, an increase of 31% compared with 2022.

International flights of course comprised the great majority of June flights, at 493,000. Of these international flights, 43% were to Iceland, 13% from Iceland, and 44% were stop-over passengers.

According to Icelandair, demand from North America has been particularly strong. Icelandair operated at 86% load capacity this June, and 90% load capacity for its North American routes.

Despite the increased numbers, only 67% of international flights were on time. Icelandair stated that this figure was below the company’s goals.

25 Airbus jets

In addition to the growing passenger number, the airline also announced its acquisition of 25 Airbus A321XLR aircraft.

The agreement was signed on April 7 and is now finalised.

The new jets, whose XLR designation indicates “Extra Long Range,” boast 11 hours of non-stop flight time, a capacity of 220 seats, and a 30% lower fuel burn than the previous generation of airliners. According to Airbus’ website, the model is intended to combine the long range and comfort of widebody jets with the economic savings of a single-aisle jet.

Delivery of the new aircraft is expected to begin in 2029.

Bogi Nils Bogason, President and CEO of Icelandair stated regarding the latest purchase: “We are very pleased to announce that we have now finalized the purchase agreement with Airbus. The efficient A321XLR aircraft will further strengthen our business model, increase our flexibility and provide opportunities for future growth, as well as further support our sustainability efforts.”

 

German Airline Condor Cancels Egilsstaðir and Akureyri Connections

condor airline iceland

German airliner, Condor, has cancelled its intended connections to Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, which were announced last summer. Vísir reports.

When the connections were announced, it was originally scheduled for weekly service between Frankfurt and the regional airports.

Read more: German Airline, Condor, to Begin Service to Akureyri and Egilsstaðir

According to Isavia, more time should have been given to allow travel agencies to prepare bookings in advance. Plans to begin the service in 2024 are reportedly underway.

According to Sigrún Björk Jakobsdóttir, managing director of Isavia’s domestic airports, “there are many factors that led to this result. The marketing abroad did not start early enough to take off for this year, and shifting market conditions also played a part in this happening. The interest of airlines in international flights to the North and East is constantly growing, we have seen this at many industry conventions abroad.”

Never More International Flights Direct to Icelandic Countryside

Akureyri and Egilsstaðir are smaller, regional airports. Akureyri is currently serviced by a handful of international connections, while Egilsstaðir is still only serviced by domestic flights. Many in the tourism industry hope to better connect Iceland’s regional airports, to open up North and East Iceland for more tourism.

Sigrún Björk also stated: “It is extremely important to continue offering access to the country through new portals in line with the government’s policy to promote tourism in all parts of the country. It will continue to be our main goal and the interest is clearly there. The availability of international flights through Akureyri has never been greater, and travel agencies that offer trips there have been increasing the number of trips.”

Market research indicates that many tourists who visit Iceland once express interest in exploring other, less accessible, parts of the country. Germany is a main driver in the growth of the Icelandic tourism industry, and Sigrún Björk expressed her full confidence in Condor’s future commitment to Icelandic connections.

Direct Flights to be Offered Between Zürich and Akureyri

edelweiss airline akureyri

Edelweiss, a Swiss airline, has announced that it will be offering direct flights between Zürich and Akureyri for a seven-week period this coming summer.

The flights will run from July 7 to August 18, but the airline has also announced plans to introduce a longer 4-month long route in the summer of 2024, if the route proves popular.

See also: Play Adds Routes to Stockholm, Hamburg

The route will be serviced by an Airbus A320, which is capable of carrying some 174 passengers.

In a press release, Edelweiss airline stated: “Akureyri is the ideal starting point for visiting the highlights of Iceland and can also be perfectly combined with flights to Keflavik. The airport in the north of the country is served every Friday.”

The new route is just one new addition in an attempt to increase international connections to the North of Iceland. German airline Condor has also announced new routes to Akureyri in the summer, giving travelers to Iceland more choices than previous, in addition to opening up a new region of the country to tourism.