‘Connectivity’ was the buzz word tripping off the tongues of Mr Helgi Már Björgvinsson, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Icelandair and Andrés Jónsson, General Manager for the airline in the UK, when I discussed the carrier’s plans and strategies for the forthcoming year at World Travel Market 2014.
The airline is concentrating on three key passenger markets: travel via Iceland between Europe and North America; travel to Iceland and travel from Iceland; capitalising on an advanced ‘hub-and-spoke’ system through the capital Reykjavik. All of which is underpinning a strong expansion, in both passenger numbers and capacity, that has seen year-on-year growth of 15 per cent since 2009 and is key to developments over the next 12 months and beyond.
2015 will be an exciting year for Icelandair (icelandair.co.uk) with the announcement that it will be operating a new service to Portland, Oregon in May next year, its 14th gateway destination within North America. Icelandair’s route network has always been built around its Iceland hub whose geographic location means that on the shortest flight path between Europe and North America the carrier offers many of the quickest transatlantic elapsed times.
Another big announcement for 2015 will be the brand new twice weekly service operating from a new base at Birmingham International Airport, alongside the expansion of routes from UK regions, which will enhance connectivity for passengers from across the UK. The airline already flies from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester so with the addition of Birmingham means comprehensive coverage of the UK and the planned increased capacity will see a total of 32 weekly flights depart from the UK next year.
Although the carrier will celebrate 70 years of flying between UK and Iceland, another landmark for 2015, there is a need to vigorously promote and build greater awareness of impressive transatlantic services that have been integrated with greater flexibility, capacity, frequency and utilisation of destination Iceland itself, which has plenty of USP’s for corporate, meeting and incentive and leisure passengers. Quality infrastructure headlined by the ‘Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Centre’ designed by renowned visual artist Olafur Eliasson will help to win MICE business.
Icelandair is also the only airline offering passengers a stopover in Iceland for no additional airfare. Unique incentive programmes can relax weary corporate travellers or inspire, reward and build team cohesion through some unique active adventures, that include the thermal waters of the ‘Blue lagoon’ a mere 20 minutes from the international airport and also other natural wonders such as the ‘Northern lights’.
Ramy Salameh, KTO London
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