Icelandair: Passenger numbers increase by 7% in January

An Icelandair Airbus A321XLR in flight
Photo Credit: Icelandair.

Icelandair has disclosed its performance for January 2024. The Icelandic carrier opened the year well, with a 7% year-on-year increase in passenger traffic and good on-time performance despite weather.

Passenger Growth: A Promising Trend

January 2024 witnessed a strong opening start to the new calendar year for Icelandair, with 225 thousand passengers transported, marking a commendable 7% increase from the previous year.

This surge in passenger numbers underscores the airline’s growing appeal and its ability to attract travelers.

Understanding passenger distribution sheds light on travel preferences and market dynamics. In January, 31% of passengers travelled inbound to Iceland, perhaps reflecting the country’s enduring allure as a tourist destination.

Meanwhile, 20% of passengers departed from Iceland on international connections.

Notably, 41% of passengers were ‘via’ travelers, highlighting Icelandair’s strategic position as a transit hub. Additionally, 8% of passengers traveled within Iceland, putting further perspective on domestic travel demand.


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Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Load Factor: Balancing Capacity and Demand

Maintaining an optimal load factor is pivotal for airlines, ensuring efficient resource utilization.

In January, Icelandair achieved a load factor of 69.4%, indicating a fairly balanced occupancy rate. Despite external challenges, the airline managed to effectively manage capacity and demand.

On-Time Performance

Operational efficiency is paramount in the aviation industry, with punctuality being a key performance indicator.

Icelandair exhibited commendable on-time performance, with a rate of 79.8% in January. However, weather-related disruptions posed challenges, albeit to a manageable extent.

Charter Flights and Freight Operations

Beyond passenger services, Icelandair’s performance extends to ad hoc charter flights and freight operations.

Notably, sold block hours in charter flights surged by 16%, signaling increased demand or strategic expansions.

Conversely, freight measured in Freight Ton Kilometers witnessed a slight decline of 9% compared to the previous year, reflecting fluctuations in cargo demand.

Impact of External Factors

The aviation industry is susceptible to a range of external influences -both natural and man-made.

For Iceland, it was indirectly environmental through January; as evidenced by the seismic activity and volcanic eruption in Southwest Iceland in November.

While Icelandair’s flight schedule remained unaffected, global media coverage of the events dampened bookings in the fourth quarter of 2023, a critical sales period for January flights.

This adverse publicity temporarily impacted load factors but gradually alleviated in the new year.

Market Dynamics: Seizing Opportunities

Despite challenges, Icelandair remains resilient, with promising market dynamics shaping its trajectory.

The via market demonstrates notable strength, witnessing a higher proportion of bookings compared to the previous year.

Similarly, demand from Iceland remains robust, underscoring the airline’s significance in both domestic and international travel.

Iceland’s unique geographical position provides Icelandair with significant strategic advantages. This is encapsulated in the ability to serve four markets simultaneously, TO, FROM, VIA and Within Iceland.

Aircraft depart to Europe early in the morning and return to Iceland in the afternoon. They depart to North America late afternoon arriving there early evening and return to Iceland at the dawn of the next day, just in time to depart again for Europe.

The running of the 24-hour hub through the heart of the network at Keflavik Airport provides Icelandair with great flexibility to change its market emphasis in line with different conditions and the capability to serve a broad range of transatlantic markets with high aircraft utilization.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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