January 2024 Sees 61% Year-On-Year Passenger Increase for Play Skip to content

January 2024 Sees 61% Year-On-Year Passenger Increase for Play

By Ragnar Tómas

iceland budget airline play
Photo: PLAY – Facebook.

Play airline experienced a 61% surge in passenger numbers in January 2024 compared to the previous year, reaching 99,704 travellers. Despite initial concerns over the impact of inaccurate news coverage in the foreign media about the ongoing geological unrest in Reykjanes, the airline is witnessing an improved booking situation for 2024.

Inaccurate coverage affected bookings

According to a recent announcement from the airline Play (and reported on by Mbl.is), the number of passengers flying with Play increased by 61% in January of this year compared to January 2022 (from 61,798 passengers to 99,704). Seat utilisation in January of this year was 75%, compared to 77% in January 2023.

“Play had previously announced that inaccurate news coverage of seismic activities on the Reykjanes Peninsula had a short-term negative impact on demand for flights to Iceland. In January 2024, however, new sales records were set, indicating that demand has recovered.” 

As noted by Play, the recent geological unrest on the Reykjanes peninsula has been confined to the Svartsengi area, and it remains highly unlikely that the ongoing seismic or volcanic activity in the region will affect air travel (none of the previous eruptions have caused significant disruptions to flights).

Positive forecasts for bookings in 2024

The announcement further notes that current booking forecasts are optimistic for the year 2024 and have improved compared to previous years. 

Of the passengers who flew with Play in January 2024, 27.1% were leaving Iceland, 31.1% were arriving in the country, and 41.8% were transit passengers (VIA). Play’s punctuality in January was 78.1%, affected by low-pressure systems that passed over Iceland and disrupted flight schedules. 

As noted by Mbl.is, the airline will publish its annual financial statements tomorrow and an investor presentation will be streamed live at 8:30 AM on Friday, February 9.

Icelandair experienced a similar dip in Q4 

In a recent report on its Q4 and 12-month 2023 performance, Icelandair revealed that the airline earned a profit of ISK 1.5 billion ISK in 2023 [$11 million / €10 million] in 2023. Like Play, seismic activities, volcanic eruptions, and air traffic controllers’ strikes significantly impacted Icelandair’s fourth-quarter performance: “Following the news that the town of Grindavík was evacuated due to anticipated volcanic eruptions, bookings dropped significantly.”

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