Flights from the United Kingdom to Iceland aren’t all that unusual – in fact there are at least eight direct scheduled city pairings from the UK to the Nordic nation. These range from low-cost options with the likes of easyJet, Wizz and PLAY; leisure-focused links with Jet2 and TUI and flag carrier connections with British Airways and Icelandair.
What unites all of these is that they serve the country’s main international hub at Keflavík. Situated some 30 miles southwest of Reykjavík, the complex has almost a complete monopoly in overseas air travel – that is until early June.
A brand-new airline is joining the party, and its unique selling point is that it’ll dodge the Icelandic capital completely and serve the country’s remote northern coast. Niceair (North Iceland) is launching a twice-weekly nonstop service linking London/Stansted with Akureyri.
The first flight is due to depart on June 3, and the route will operate on Monday and Friday to leverage business and leisure travel opportunities.
Return flights are on sale from £240 return – more than you’ll pay to get to Keflavík with one of the big-name LCCs, but much less than having to fly to the capital before transferring to Reykjavík’s downtown domestic airport for an expensive turboprop flight north to Akureyri.
The alternative to reach Akureyri – located less than 75 miles from the Arctic Circle and considered as the ‘capital of the north’ – is a five-hour drive along the island’s main ring road, something which might appeal to first-timers or those with plenty of time, but isn’t an attractive option for many others.
In addition to the Stansted service, Niceair has also confirmed that Manchester will be its second UK destination. Due to launch in October 2022, the new twice-weekly route will be marketed towards winter tourism.
It forms part of a wider launch programme, with direct international flights also heading for Copenhagen and Tenerife. Transavia is the only other carrier to bring overseas travellers directly into Akureyri, with a handful of seasonal charters using its Boeing single-aisle jets.
All Niceair flights will be served by wet-leased Airbus A319 aircraft via “an established European ACMI operator”. The narrowbodies will be in an all-economy configuration with 150 seats with full branding and livery in Niceair style.
According to ch-aviation data, the start-up airline is backed by 17 private investors, including Iceland’s largest fishing company and local business leaders who were frustrated by the lack of direct flights from the region.
Key Aero is due to be onboard the inaugural flight from Stansted and we’ll have a full report for you in June. Watch this space!