PLAY: 2023 showed immense growth and doubled revenue

A PLAY A320neo parked at the terminal.
Photo Credit: CNW Group/PLAY

Icelandic airline PLAY has reported its 2023 performance, showing it was a year of immense growth and progress. In 2023, revenue doubled for the airline, unit cost decreased and EBIT improved significantly.

“2023 was in many ways a very good year for PLAY and once again showed the resilience and flexibility of the business model and our fantastic team of Players,” note PLAY CEO Birgir Jonsson.

“We delivered strong financial results after the all-important summer season and third quarter, delivering the first-ever bottom-line profit even though we were in the middle of a very steep growth curve, having added hundreds of employees, thirteen new destinations, and four new aircraft.”

PLAY 2023 in Review

Doubling Revenue

PLAY marked a significant milestone in 2023 as its revenue doubled compared to the previous year. Revenue for the full year in 2023 doubled from 140 million in 2022 to 282 million USD in 2023.

Looking at the final quarter of the year, revenues in Q4 were USD 65.7 million compared to USD 37.9 million in Q4 2022.

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For the full year, the airline successfully reduced unit costs while notably improving its EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes).

Earnings before interest and taxes, EBIT, in 2023 improved significantly in 2023 compared to 2022. EBIT was negative 21 million USD in 2023 compared to negative 44 million USD in 2022. EBIT per available seat improved by 74% in 2023.

Overhead view of a PLAY Airbus in flight.
Photo Credit: PLAY

Passenger Metrics and On-Time Performance

PLAY carried 1.5 million passengers in the full year of 2023 thereof were 376 thousand passengers in Q4.

Throughout 2023, PLAY demonstrated commendable performance in passenger metrics, with a notable increase in the load factor, reaching an impressive 83.4% for the full year.

Despite facing temporary challenges due to global news coverage surrounding seismic events in the Reykjanes Peninsula, PLAY managed to accommodate 1.5 million passengers, showcasing resilience and adaptability in adverse circumstances.

Notably, the airline maintained an exceptional on-time performance of 83.4%, with the majority of its flights operating punctually, notwithstanding minor delays.

Expansion and Destination Offerings

2023 marked a year of expansion and innovation for PLAY, with the introduction of several new destinations to its route network.

From Aalborg and Billund in Denmark to Washington DC in the United States, PLAY extended its reach to diverse geographical locations, catering to the evolving travel preferences of its customers.

In 2023, PLAY flew inaugural flights to Aalborg and Billund in Denmark, Stockholm in Sweden, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Frankfurt in Germany, Washington DC in the United States, Toronto in Canada, Porto in Portugal, Geneva in Switzerland, Venice in Italy, Glasgow in Scotland, Athens in Greece, Warsaw in Poland and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.

A PLAY airlines aircraft with wheels down approaching to land
Diegorrego, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2023, the carrier also launched ticket sales for Verona in Italy and most recently to Split in Croatia in 2024.

In addition to that, PLAY relaunched flights to Amsterdam and now operates daily year-round flights to the capital of the Netherlands.

Additionally, the airline introduced customer-centric features such as the option to book stopovers in Iceland at no extra cost, further enhancing the overall travel experience.

Enhanced Ancillary Revenue

With respect to customer satisfaction and revenue diversification, PLAY implemented bundled fares and partnered with leading service providers to offer comprehensive travel packages.

These initiatives not only boosted ancillary revenue but also strengthened PLAY’s position as a customer-focused airline.

The accolades received, including being voted the best crew by USA Today 10Best and recognized as the top low-cost airline in Northern Europe, validate PLAY’s dedication to excellence and customer-centricity.

Photo: PLAY Airlines
Photo: PLAY Airlines

Forward-Looking Strategies and Growth Projections

Looking ahead, PLAY remains poised for growth, despite adjustments in its aircraft acquisition plans. With a focus on expanding its fleet and enhancing operational efficiency, the airline aims to achieve sustained profitability in the coming years.

PLAY had previously announced that it had signed LOIs for two aircraft that were planned to join the fleet in 2025.

While the airline has every intention to develop its fleet and increase its capacity in the coming years, these orders have been canceled.

“2024 will be the first year that PLAY will not add new aircraft to the operation and in a stable environment there would not be a need for additional capital for 2024,” said Jonsson.

“Recent events have however shown that the situation of airlines can change quickly, and it is the company’s opinion that the liquidity position needs to be strengthened.”

“Overall, we are proud of our achievements and performance in the year, even though I would have wanted to see less turbulence in the last months of the year and a better financial performance overall.”

“I am, however, absolutely sure that we are on the right trajectory, and I look forward to seeing my great team of colleagues continue to build PLAY into a great airline in the coming year,”  Jonsson concluded.

PLAY’s long-term vision remains to increase its fleet size, grow revenue, and maintain competitive cost structures, reflected its ambition to establish itself as a leading player in the global aviation industry.

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Icelandic carrier PLAY saw a year of immense growth and progress in 2023. This year will see the carrier consolidate, with no additional aircraft planned for 2024.
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