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Icelandair extends cancellations to US, Canada after Boeing 737 Max grounding

Key Points
  • Icelandair is to cancel all flights to and from Cleveland and Halifax in 2019.
  • The airline blamed the grounding of the 737 Max as well as transatlantic oversupply.
  • To offset capacity, Icelandair has leased two Boeing 767 aircraft and one 757-200.
Icelandair Boeing 767-300 aircraft landing at London Heathrow International Airport.
NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The national carrier of Iceland has extended the cancellation of some flights to and from North America across the rest of 2019.

In the wake of Boeing's 737 Max grounding, Icelandair had earlier announced that flights to Cleveland in the U.S. and Halifax in Canada would be suspended over spring and summer. On Wednesday, the airline said that would now apply over the whole calendar year.

Boeing's 737 Max aircraft has been globally grounded following two crashes within 5 months that have killed 346 people.

Icelandair said its flight changes were "partly due to the suspension of the Boeing 737 Max" but also because of a switch in focus away from transatlantic services. It said the financial impact of the changes was "uncertain."

In its statement, Icelandair confirmed that between April and mid-June, around 100 previously scheduled trips would be canceled. To offset the loss of the 737 Max, the airline has now "wet-leased" three other Boeing aircraft.

A wet-lease is an arrangement where the lessor provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to an airline.

In an apparent switch of strategy, Icelandair added that from 2020 it would introduce economy-only aircraft on routes serving southern Europe.

"These aircraft are better suited for certain destinations that are not part of Icelandair's core route network, such as Alicante and Tenerife, and therefore present opportunities for growth."

Last month, Iceland's budget carrier Wow Air collapsed citing a fall in tourist visits to Iceland and rising fuel costs.