Discount Airline Adds Service To Europe from New US Airport

Icelandic-owned, low-cost airline Play today announced that it will be adding a fourth U.S. city to its route map with service to Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), scheduled to start on April 23, 2023.

“We’re just really looking forward to starting it and taking the next step in the U.S. market, which has been very good to us so far,” Play CEO Birgir Jonsson told USA Today.


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The discount carrier currently serves three U.S. destinations: Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Airport, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and New York Stewart International Airport (SWF), located just north of the Big Apple.

Jonsson told the outlet that Play has had particular success with its BWI service and he hopes the addition of a Washington-Dulles route will capture even more of the existing demand.

In the pre-pandemic “normal” of 2019, about 27 million total passengers passed through BWI annually, while IAD roughly saw 24 million. IAD is just over 60 miles by car from BWI, a drive time of around an hour and 40 minutes.

“It’s a big area. I’m sure at some point there might be some passengers that would prefer to go from one airport over the other,” he said. “I would rather cannibalize myself than let someone else do it.”

Paul Bobson, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s vice president for airline business development, said in a statement, “As a low-cost airline operating flights to Iceland and the rest of Europe, PLAY will add significant capacity in the low-cost international market segment.”

Iceland: Land of Fire & IceReykjavik, Iceland.
Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo courtesy of Collette)

Once the new route commences, its scheduled flight frequency will be one roundtrip daily operating between Dulles and Play’s home base in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. In the trio of U.S. cities that Play presently serves, it also operates one roundtrip flight per day.

The budget carrier is focused on connecting U.S. cities with popular European destinations. All of Play’s U.S.-to-Europe flights are routed through its headquarters in Iceland, with flights departing U.S. cities in the evening and arriving in Reykjavik in the early morning hours. Then, those same planes in its relatively small fleet fly roundtrip itineraries around Europe before setting off for the U.S. again later that day.

The airline serves more destinations across the pond than in America, but only the most popular cities on the Continent (e.g., London, Paris, etc.) enjoy daily roundtrip service, while the rest are only served on select days of the week.

Jonsson also revealed that Play will be adding four more aircraft to its fleet in the approaching months and, as a result of that increased capacity, he expects the airline will add even more North American cities to its route map. He said he anticipates introducing about three more destinations in the near future.

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