Crossroads (PS)


palli-dlIf you want to travel to North America from Iceland you have ten destinations (15 if you count Air Iceland with its Greenland destinations) serviced by Icelandair to choose from: Anchorage, Boston, Denver, Halifax, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Seattle, and Washington D.C. It is amazing.

From Norway, there is only one direct flight to North America: Oslo to Newark (located within the New York metropolitan area). What has always amazed me is that Reykjavík is closer to New York than New York is to San Francisco.

Icelandair also services 24 European destinations, the newest of which is St. Petersburg, flights to which will commence next spring. I’m looking forward to visiting St. Petersburg one more time; it’s one of my absolute favorite cities. Icelandair services four destinations in Norway: Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and of course Oslo. Bergen is less than two hours away from Iceland.

Last summer, 18 airlines flew in to Keflavík, connecting the Republic with great cities like Kaunas and Köln.

Kastrup Copenhagen International Airport has been a hub for Icelanders for many, many years. Here our trips have continued most often with SAS to destinations not served by Icelandair and other airlines. Kastrup is a great airport, one of my favorite airports, in fact. Other airports that I like include Helsinki and Frankfurt (with more destinations than any other airport on Earth) and Vágar International Airport. The worst airports: JFK in New York and London Heathrow if you need to get a connecting flight.

But this could change. SAS, the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, is in big trouble. How long will they survive is hard to say.

The aviation business is risky. Last summer Iceland had three local carriers: Iceland Express, WOW and Icelandair. Now we have only two: WOW and Icelandair. Iceland Express lost the price war with WOW and has now had part of its operations taken over by its competitor.

This year Icelandair will make a record profit with a record number of passengers in this record-breaking year for tourism in Iceland. Close to 700,000 tourists will visit planet Iceland this year.

Yes, Iceland is centrally located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, only three hours away from London, Copenhagen and Helsinki, eight hours from Seattle, with eight hours’ time difference. So you land there at the same time you left Iceland. That is the same time difference as between Tokyo and Reykjavík.

Hopefully, Icelandair (or any other airline) will soon start direct flights to Asia. Beijing, Tokyo, Shanghai and New Delhi would be the perfect first destinations to bring Iceland closer to the Far East and the sub-continent of India.

Páll Stefánsson – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.