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.”

Play Introduces “Stopover” Option

iceland budget airline play

The airline Play announced today that passengers on their connecting flights to and from Iceland can stop over in Iceland without an additional fee. This applies to passengers travelling between North America and Europe and they can now book a “stopover” for up to ten days using Play’s website interface, Viðskiptablaðið reports.

“Play is focused on offering competitive prices for its markets and with this service, travellers will be able to visit two countries without paying extra, using the airline’s online booking platform,” Play’s press release read.

Competing with Icelandair’s “stopover”

Icelandair, Iceland’s other international passenger airline, has offered the “stopover” option for a number of years. In their case, passengers travelling across the Atlantic can stay in Iceland for up to seven nights without an additional fee.

“This increases our offerings and will be a valuable tool in the competition for customers in our markets,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Play, about the company’s new product. “It’s an unequivocal benefit for passengers to choose Play if they want to travel across the Atlantic and are intrigued by the attractiveness of Iceland. This new service on our website will simplify the process of booking a stay in our beautiful country and will increase our airline’s esteem abroad even more.”

In the United States, Play flies to Baltimore, Boston, New York and Washington DC, but also offers flights to Toronto in Canada. In Europe, the airline has over 30 destinations.

Air Traffic Controller Strike Aborted Due to Eruption

Reykjanes eruption Iceland eruption

Industrial action by air traffic controllers planned for tomorrow morning will not take place due to the volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, Association President Arnar Hjálmsson confirmed with Mbl.is. The round of strikes began December 12 and, disrupting morning flights to and from Iceland for airlines Play and Icelandair. The work stoppages continued on December 14 and 18.

The volcanic eruption began shortly before midnight last night, 3 km north of the town of Grindavík.  The eruption has not affected air travel and Keflavík airport remains open, despite its proximity to the site of the eruption.

Flight schedules remain unaffected

According to a press release from Icelandair, the airline’s flight schedule remains unaffected. “The safety of our passengers and staff is always priority number one and all decisions are made with this in mind,” Vísir quotes the release. “We are following the situation closely and will alert passengers in a timely manner if any changes occur to our flight schedule because of the eruption.”

The airline Play has asked passengers to keep a close eye on messages from them regarding possible disruptions. “We do not expect any disruptions to our flight schedule but safety is always our top priority and the situation is being monitored closely by the relevant authorities,” is stated in a notice the airline’s website.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

Tomorrow’s cancelled action was the last strike planned this year by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This has been the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

Air Traffic Controllers to Strike Thursday Amid Failed Talks

A negotiation meeting between Icelandic air traffic controllers and Isavia was called off at 5 PM yesterday without an agreement, Vísir reports. Air traffic controllers will undertake additional strike action on Thursday morning. 

Next meeting on Thursday at 2 PM

A negotiation meeting between the Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, representing Isavia (the company that operates all public airports in Iceland), began at 3 PM yesterday. The meeting, which took place at the offices of the State Mediator, concluded two hours later without an agreement being reached, Vísir reports.

The next meeting in the wage dispute is scheduled for Thursday at 2 PM. This means that additional strike action scheduled for the morning of Thursday, December 4, will be implemented.

As reported yesterday, the travel plans of thousands of passengers were disrupted when the first wave of strike actions hit yesterday morning. In addition to the planned strikes on Thursday, similar actions have been announced for Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Commercial airlines Icelandair and Play are now assessing their legal position regarding the issue, stating that the actions of the air traffic controllers have caused significant damage to the companies.

Agreements expired October 1

As noted in an article on IR yesterday, the collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have progressed very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association, has asserted that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and Coast Guard flights.

Flights Delayed as Iceland’s Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Keflavík Airport

Dozens of flights to and from Keflavík and Reykjavík airports have been delayed this morning due to industrial action by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The strike ends at 10:00 AM, but will have ripple effects on flights throughout the day as airlines scramble to get passengers to their destinations. Many are expected to miss their connecting flights.

The airline Play has announced the disruption of 19 flights, five of them from North America and fourteen from Iceland to destinations in Europe. The arrivals of North American flights and the departures of European flights have been delayed until the work stoppage ends at 10:00 AM. Icelandair has delayed 12 flights from North America this morning along with most of European flights. In addition, a number of flights have been combined and destinations altered. A flight scheduled for London Gatwick will land at London Heathrow and a flight to Paris will end up in Amsterdam. Planned flights to Zürich and Munich will head to Frankfurt, while a scheduled flight to Stockholm is now destined for Copenhagen.

More work stoppages announced

A second round of work stoppages is expected Thursday morning if a resolution to the labour dispute is not reached before then, with further action taking place next week, according to Mbl.is reporting on the labour dispute. A round of negotiations between air traffic controllers and Isavia, the company that operates all public airports in Iceland, ended last night without an agreement. Al­dís Magnús­dótt­ir, the state mediator in the dispute, says discussions will resume later today. However, the parties are not close to an agreement, according to both Aldís and Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association. If the dispute is not resolved, further industrial action will take place on December 14, 18 and 20.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

 

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.