PLAY records high monthly load factor growth in May

A PLAY Airbus A321neo on the taxiway.
Tobias Green, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Icelandic low-cost carrier PLAY recorded 128,894 passengers in May, which is one of the highest monthly passenger headcount increase in the history of PLAY.

The passenger number growth in May was nearly 26% year-on-year, which is higher than the month of April when the low-cost carrier transported 102,499 passengers. Not only that, but the load factor in May stood very high, and in terms of performance, 87% of PLAY’s flights in this month arrived on schedule. 

These outlooks are very positive as May is seen as a ‘quiet’ month for airlines, as they are trumping their capacity for the summer run.

The summer season will be a busy period for all airlines, and with PLAY recording excellent numbers prior to the busy period, the airline looks to be in for a good year. 

PLAY Hard


Last month alone, PLAY served 26 destinations, compared to 17 in May last year, showing a significant improvement in the airline’s capability. Moreover, the airline also flew to destinations to and from London, Copenhagen, Paris, Boston, and Berlin.

These destinations have an impressive load factor of over 90%, to destinations in southern Europe, a place synonymous with younger travellers from western Europe to party. 

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Iceland airline PLAY aircraft landing in Berlin.
MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the airline witnessed a further increase yearly in air traffic between Iceland in May, signalling that there is a huge trust and market awareness in the new airline.

Of passengers flying PLAY in May 2023, 27% departed from Iceland, whilst 25% were going to Iceland. 48% were transiting passengers between USA and Europe. 

Increase in Average Ancillary Revenue 


The airline recorded a 28% increase in average ancillary revenue year-on-year and a very positive outlook. In fact, May showed the highest average ancillary revenue. This is due to the rise in air travel, the usage of digitalization and online booking engine traffic, and sales and distribution channels. 

The second quarter took off very well for the Icelandic carrier, with the carrier’s financial results looking very bright surpassing the expectations of the executives. It looks like PLAY is not repeating the same mistakes as WOW airlines had done. 

Birgir Jonsson, PLAY’s CEO spoke positively on the figures: “May was a very  robust month for PLAY, as we achieved the highest monthly passenger count in our history. A load factor of 85% further solidifies our position in a challenging month where demand is typically not very strong.”

“We also reached a major milestone when we received a brand-new A321neo bringing our fleet of A320neo family aircraft to ten.”

“Currently, we have the youngest fleet of any airline in Europe, which is very important as this contributes to lower maintenance costs, improved fuel efficiency, and a great experience for our passengers.”

“We have been welcoming many new staff members and now have a team of around 550 highly motivated and professional people that are ready to show the world what we can do.”    

“The strong demand and revenue growth we are experiencing bode well for the upcoming summer season and the year in general. Reaching the milestone of having ten aircraft in operation gives us the scale we need to match our revenue generation with our cost base.”

PLAY is positioning itself as a quirky, millennial airline, helping those on a shoestring to travel across the pond, and generating economic growth to Iceland, by bringing in tourism.

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By Indy Udol 4 Min Read
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