Giving no immediate timetable, the airline said yesterday it had narrowed its fleet replacement down to three options, and was now determining which of the these paths to follow. These are:
- Maintain the current fleet strategy, with continued use of the company’s Boeing 757-200s alongside its 767-300s and 737 MAX
- A faster renewal of the fleet, with the Airbus A321neo introduced alongside the 737 MAX aircraft and a more rapid retirement of the 757-200s;
- A possible complete switch from Boeing to Airbus types
Option 1 is simply not a long term option and has to be ruled out. It might last three to five years but growing maintenance and fuel costs render it impractical. It’s basically a do nothing approach.
Option 2 has its appeal but it lacks two key components. Firstly there is no interoperability between the two and it will require two sets of pilots and minimise flexibility.
Secondly Icelandair’s fleet isn’t big enough to manage two separate manufacturers maintenance requirements and parts and training. It’s expensive and impractical and they know it. It goes against every modern airline practice and cost management principle.
Option 3 has one major drawback; the transition period. It will mean increased costs and reduced crew flexibility during the transition which will take at least two years, probably three, but the long term result is uniform costs, maintenance, crew and brand image.
There’s no question which one I’d go for – Option 3 is the only long term viable option. It has a time limit to any disruption and teething problems and it has long term 20 year viability.