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Hands down, one of the most interesting airlines in Europe right now is Iceland Express, the Icelandic budget airline with brand new Reykjavik-Newark and Reykjavik-Winnipeg routes launching this week.
While Newark is an obvious expansion target, Winnipeg, Canada’s seventh biggest city, located midway across the continent, may not be, not at least until one considers Manitoba’s considerable Icelandic-Canadian community. The fact that Iceland Express experiences no competition on this route—the only Canadian airports to which Icelandair flies are Halifax and Toronto—no doubt provides another advantage.
Iceland Express is interesting for its hip brand, which is simple and quite orange. In choosing orange, the airline risks being compared to easyJet—at least until visitors chance upon the airline’s snappy tone, which is probably most in evidence on its blog. The blog actually finds humor in Eyjafjallajökull’s volcanic antics. (Sample quote: “The idea of a flood from the melting glacier made scientists and rebuilding contractors very excited, more so than the inhabitants.”) No pathos, no hand-wringing about lost revenue. Just a stab at humor.
Iceland Express’ new summertime routes
During the summer season, Iceland Express ramps up its route map density and frequency. The airline’s wintertime destinations are joined by flights between Reykjavik and Aalborg, Barcelona, Basel, Billund, Birmingham, Bologna, Frankfurt Hahn, Gothenburg, Gdansk, Geneva, Krakow, Luxembourg, Milan Bergamo, Oslo, Paris and Rotterdam—in addition to the aforementioned Newark and Winnipeg routes.
The airline also operates once-a-week flights between Akureyri, Iceland’s second biggest city, and both Copenhagen and London Gatwick.
Iceland Express’s expanded summer schedule ends on August 31, 2010.
Note that the airline’s winter schedule is relatively speaking quite condensed. This past winter season, Iceland Express operated routes from Reykjavik to Alicante, Berlin, Copenhagen, Friedrichshafen, London Gatwick, London Stansted, and Warsaw: routes for Icelandic sun-seekers, Polish workers, business travelers and year-round tourists.
Don’t miss the airline’s Icebreaker Special Offer fares, which typically list the airline’s cheapest fare. The May 31, 2010 Icebreaker fare is a one-way Winnipeg-Reykjavik journey this coming Saturday, which runs just C$130 (US$125). That’s including taxes and charges. We found a return Winnipeg-Reykjavik fare in mid-June for C$360 (US$342). That return fare may not be quite such a good value, but it adds up nonetheless to a decently-priced round trip.