American Airlines will begin flying to Iceland, becoming the last of the USA’s “big three” legacy carriers to add service to the nation.
American’s service will begin June 7, when the airline launches daily non-stop service from its hub at Dallas/Fort Worth to Reykjavik. The seasonal flights will continue through Oct. 27. American will fly the route on 176-seat Boeing 757-200 jets that include 16 lie-flat business-class seats.
American’s Iceland service continues what’s become a flood of new flight options to the European island nation. It also could suggest that the big U.S. airlines are pushing back against the dozens of new routes that Icelandic carriers have added here in recent years.
For decades, U.S. travelers have been able to fly to the country on Icelandair, which also sells connecting flights to numerous European destinations via its hub near the capital of Reykjavik. Over the years, Icelandair has cultivated a reputation for offering inexpensive flights to Europe, even though it has traditionally operated as something close to a full-service carrier and includes a business-class cabin.
But options between the U.S. and Iceland have proliferated this decade amid an increasingly competitive landscape.
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Delta began flying to Reykjavik in 2011, adding a seasonal route from New York JFK that made it the only U.S. carrier to serve the country at the time.
Earlier this year, United became the second U.S. carrier to announce service to Iceland when it said it would begin seasonal service from Newark to Reykjavik. Those flights are scheduled to begin May 23.
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Now, with American’s just-announced flights from Dallas/Fort Worth, all three of the USA’s big global carriers are selling tickets to Iceland.
But their rush to serve Iceland is perhaps fueled as much by fending off low-cost competition as it is by keeping up with each other.
WOW Air, an upstart Icelandic “ultra low-cost carrier,” has led the way with a breakneck expansion pace. Despite launching U.S. service just two years ago, WOW is now selling tickets from 14 U.S. cities. It’s even expanded into the Heartland, bringing trans-Atlantic Iceland service to cities like Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
But what’s made WOW so disruptive are its cut-rate fares as low as $69 one-way. Those fares — numerous fees not included — have been offered not only on its flights to Iceland, but also on connecting itineraries to destinations such as Berlin, London and Paris.
Perhaps in response, WOW’s more established rival Icelandair has pushed back with its own U.S. expansion. Some routes have directly overlapped WOW’s, such as Cleveland – where the airlines announced their expansion plans within 24 hours of each other.
And, now, with American’s DFW-Iceland announcement out on Tuesday, Dallas/Fort Worth has gone from having zero routes to Iceland two months ago to three now.
For the time being, that will leave industry observers wondering whether DFW will have the demand to support all three routes — or if one of the three will cry uncle and exit the market.
Stay tuned …
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