PLAY Airlines: Strong profit turnaround in Q3

A PLAY Airlines Airbus lands in Berlin.
MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 7 Min Read
7 Min Read

PLAY Airlines has turned a USD 5.2 million profit in the 3rd quarter of 2023 compared to net loss of USD 2.9 million in Q3 2022.

This solid achievement can be attributed to various factors, including higher revenues, increased load factor, and a significant capacity expansion.

Resounding Revenues

In a remarkable turnaround, PLAY Airlines reported an impressive profit of USD 5.2 million in the third quarter of 2023, compared to a net loss of USD 2.9 million in the same period of 2022.

With a substantial 70% increase in capacity, PLAY Airlines managed to increase its revenue by a remarkable 84%, with unit revenue (RASK) seeing a 9% increase.

These year-on-year improvements in load factor and unit revenue underscore the airline’s growing prominence in key markets.

Destination and Capacity

During the third quarter of 2023, PLAY Airlines operated flights to an impressive 33 destinations in Europe and North America.


The airline experienced a substantial 71% increase in capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASK), compared to Q3 2022.

The load factor, a crucial metric in the aviation industry, saw a notable improvement, increasing by 3.4 percentage points from 85% in Q3 2022 to 88.4% in Q3 2023.

As a result, PLAY carried 540 thousand passengers during this quarter, a 74% increase from the 311 thousand passengers in Q3 2022.

A PLAY Airbus A320 parked at the Keflavik terminal.
Photo Credit: Luca Zocche

VIA Traffic

In Q3 2023, 24% of total passengers flew to Iceland, 33% flew from Iceland, and 43% were connecting passengers (VIA).

VIA traffic experienced a significant increase, growing by 4 percentage points year-on-year. Notably, the load factor on routes to and from North America reached an impressive 92% during the quarter, with the number of passengers on these routes increasing by 74% year on year.

Connectivity and Demand

The increase in VIA traffic can be attributed to increased connectivity within PLAY Airlines’ network, heightened awareness of the airline in foreign markets, and strong U.S. consumer demand.

Additionally, the introduction of bundled fares in February contributed to improved yields from VIA passengers compared to Q3 2022.


In Q3 2023, PLAY Airlines achieved a strong operational performance, with 85.1% of flights arriving on time.

This achievement surpasses the performance of the airline’s main competitors and stands as a testament to the dedication and focus of PLAY’s entire team and service partners.

A Profitable Quarter: Financial Results

The third quarter of 2023 marked a historic achievement for PLAY Airlines as it recorded a net profit of USD 5.2 million.

This marks a significant turnaround from the previous year when the airline reported a net loss of USD 2.9 million.

Revenues for Q3 2023 reached USD 110.2 million, a substantial increase from the USD 59.9 million in Q3 2022.

PLAY Airlines’ total revenue per available seat kilometer (TRASK) increased by 9% compared to Q3 2022, reaching 6.1 US cents. EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) was positive, amounting to USD 12.9 million in Q3 2023, compared to USD 1.3 million for the same period in the previous year.

Ancillary Revenue

PLAY Airlines has been dedicated to increasing ancillary revenue through various strategies, including the launch of bundled fares in February and other additional ancillary products.

Ancillary yield per passenger in Q3 2023 reached USD 58, reflecting a 35% increase compared to Q3 2022. Total ancillary revenue for this year, up to this point, is 150% higher than at the same time in 2022.

Cost Management

Total operating expenses, including depreciation, amounted to USD 82.1 million in the quarter, resulting in a unit cost per available seat kilometer (CASK) of 5.3 US cents, a 2% decrease compared to the same period last year.

The Ex-Fuel CASK was 3.4 US cents, showing an 11% increase year-on-year due to inflation and one-off maintenance items. PLAY Airlines expects its Ex-Fuel CASK to be around 3.7 USD cents for the full year.

Financial Stability

PLAY Airlines maintained a strong financial position with total assets amounting to USD 493.8 million at the end of the period, compared to USD 331.5 million at the end of 2022. The company operated ten aircraft throughout the period.

Trade and other receivables amounted to USD 27.9 million, with a significant portion consisting of unpaid ticket sales.

Deferred income decreased during the period, reaching USD 40.7 million at the end of September, which can be attributed to seasonality.

Despite this, PLAY Airlines maintained a solid cash position of USD 39.2 million at period-end, including restricted cash.

The total equity at period-end was USD 25.5 million, and importantly, the company had no external interest-bearing debt.

CEO’s Perspective

Birgir Jónsson, CEO of PLAY Airlines, expressed immense pride in the financial and operational results for the third quarter of 2023.

 He highlighted the fact that PLAY generated a net profit of 5.2 million USD, marking the first-ever quarterly net profit since the airline’s inaugural flight in June 2021.

Jónsson emphasized the tenfold growth in operational profit, an 84% increase in revenues, and a remarkable 74% growth in passenger numbers.

These achievements stand as a testament to a well-performing business model and a dedicated team of professionals.

PLAY’s Outlook

Looking ahead, PLAY Airlines’ outlook for the full year remains optimistic and unchanged from the end-of-summer information meeting in September.

The airline anticipates carrying around 1.5 million passengers in 2023, with an estimated EBIT of around negative USD 10 million.

The airline is projected to generate a total revenue of around USD 280 million in 2023, showcasing the continued growth and potential of this rising star in the aviation industry.

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