The Icelandic carriers, Icelandair and WOW air, are on a tear to find every niche they can. Both carriers have announced new service to the US. In Baltimore, they will be going head-to-head soon. The competition is interesting for several reasons. The airlines fly different fleets – Icelandair is a Boeing customer and WOW is in the Airbus camp. It also pits these two OEM’s long-range single aisles against each other.
But of these new markets announced, one stands out as something different. Take a look at this map provided by the Kansas City Department of Aviation. As their Deputy Director of Aviation – Marketing and Air Service Development, Justin Meyer, noted: “I think one of the things that makes the MCI opportunity so interesting is the massive geographic void of TATL service that exists between Dallas-Minneapolis and Chicago-Denver. This catchment area includes notable markets such as Omaha, Des Moines, Wichita, Lincoln, Columbia, Topeka, Tulsa, and more.”
In other words, just the kind of markets that are big enough to generate a good load factor on a long-range single-aisle aircraft like Icelandair’s 757. Moreover, the route is being developed as the airport works on a $1.3Bn renovation. Icelandair plans a three days per week service and allows for connections to 25 EU city pairs beyond Reykjavik.
“I think it shows the confidence Icelandair has in Kansas City to be able to make this commitment now for the summer season,” Tim Cowden, president and chief executive of KCADC, said. “Icelandair believes in Kansas City and, in turn, Kansas City believes in Icelandair. This is a true partnership.”
Moreover, the Iceland market is attracting attention for American, Delta, and United. But none of the US carriers can match the convenience of a non-stop; thereby avoiding increasingly unpleasant, crowded, hubs that are subject to weather snafus. Any success at Kansas City will inevitably attract attention from WOW. And behind them are Norwegian and Primera, who will also be watching closely.