Icelandair has hit especially hard by the 737MAX groundings and has taken them out of its operation until the end of February 2020.
It was supposed to be operating nine in the past year – 25% of its fleet capacity – and has had none. Compensation has been agreed with Boeing, but that almost certainly goes as credit against new deliveries rather than cash.
On top of the five MAX8 and one MAX9 delivered and in storage, it has another three 8’s and six 9’s on order, most of which should have been delivered by now and representing 75% of the fleet.
The airline has decided its last 757 will be replaced in 2025, and had already looked at options.
At present its preference is the A321XLR – and it seems unlikely to change that position. A final decision will be made by mid-year 2020. One of its arguments is that it’s over-dependence on Boeing has been near catastrophic, and a mix of aircraft is preferable to having 75% of its fleet grounded in one go, at some future date for some other major issue.
The airline also operates a handful of 767-300ER’s on high density rather than long haul routes. It was said to be looking at the 788 but has now ruled that out as an option.
An additional issue is the emergence of PLAY – a sort or reborn WOW – Icelandair pretty much implied it had been a real bonus during troubled times with the MAX grounding, that it didn’t have to face competition. Now it will have to factor that back into its operations again.
For now, over the winter months the MAX groundings aren’t as impactful, but the airline desperately wants to be back at operational capacity by the start of the summer schedules at the end of March.