By Vanni Gibertini
PLAY Announces New Flights To New York Stewart
Today, Icelandic low-cost airline PLAY is announcing a new service connecting Iceland to the United States. Starting June 9, PLAY will fly between its main base at Rekjavik, Iceland’s Keflavik Airport and New York’s Stewart International Airport
The airport is located in Orange County, N.Y., near the towns of Newburgh, N.Y. and New Windsor, N.Y. — which is approximately 60 miles north of Manhattan.
There are currently three U.S. carriers operating or planning to operate from the airport: Allegiant, Frontier and JetBlue. PLAY will be the only airline planning to operate international services from this airport, and its passengers will be the first to benefit from the recently-constructed $37 million U.S. Customs facility.
PLAY began its operations in May 2021 — making it the first airline to launch after the COVID-19 crisis swept the world of commercial aviation. During the first six months of operations, PLAY carried over 100,000 passengers on more than 1,000 flights, achieving a 53.2% load factor and a 96% on-time arrival rate.
“New York is a critical location for both European tourists looking to explore Manhattan and American travelers heading to 22 destinations including Iceland, Paris, Dublin, and more. Stewart International Airport is uniquely situated as a hub for travelers in New York and surrounding states. Passengers have convenient transportation options to reach the airport, in addition to short wait times in the security line and low costs for parking their cars,” PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson said.”The low fares and flexibility that passengers experience at Stewart International Airport are exactly what passengers seek when they book their travel with PLAY. We anticipate strong bookings in 2022, and with New York as our third U.S. destination, PLAY passengers will have more choices when booking last-minute trips, work-cations, and spontaneous adventures.”
New York Stewart will be the carrier’s third destination in the U.S. after Baltimore and Boston. As a result, the airline’s new service will be an expansion of its existing services to the growing Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut — known as the Tri-state area.
Flights will be operated on the Airbus A321neo aircraft that are capable of carrying 192 passengers in a single-class configuration.
During the last decade, very few countries saw as many dramatic changes in their national commercial aviation competitive arena compared to Iceland. The meteoric rise and growth of ultra-LCC WOW Air and the parallel expansion of incumbent flag carrier Icelandair that tried to keep up with the “new kid on the block” made Keflavik International Airport an important crossroad for passengers looking to cross the Atlantic on a budget.
However, after the demise of WOW in 2019 and the subsequent collapse in demand due to international travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Keflavik Airport saw its terminals that just a few months earlier were bursting at the seams during peak hours turn into desolate empty quarters. Icelandair drastically reduced staff levels and salaries to cope with a very uncertain future as it integrated its domestic operations under the mainline brand to rationalize its services.
In this almost post-apocalyptic scenario, PLAY took on the challenge to fill a void left in the market and revive the option for passengers looking to travel between Europe and the U.S. at lower fares — possibly while making a stop to visit the natural wonders of Iceland.
Ticket sales for PLAY flights departing New York Stewart will start on Fe1.1 and will include 22 destinations in Europe including Stuttgart, Germany; Trondheim, Norway; Gothenburg, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; London, Paris, Dublin, Berlin and Brussels.
PLAY offers passengers the ability to tailor their travel experience to their needs with a-la-carte add-ons such as in-flight meals, carry-on bags, checked bags among other options. With a flexible COVID-19 policy, travelers have peace of mind that they can adjust their flights as needed.