Iceland Express will switch its London-Reykjavik flights from Stansted to Gatwick next month.
On May 1 the low-cost carrier will begin a daily service from Gatwick to the Icelandic capital, with an extra flight on Thursdays and Fridays from June to August, as Business Traveller reported last year (see online news November 11). Iceland Express aims to fill the void left after British Airways pulled its Gatwick-Reykjavik route last year.
The airline estimates that 30 per cent of passengers on its Stansted route have been business travellers and it hopes to increase this by operating out of Gatwick.
Facilities available include a pre-seat selection option that allows people to buy more legroom for £15. The carrier is planning to implement fast-track passage through security at Gatwick for those who opt for this, as it did at Stansted. It is also hoping to introduce online check-in.
Iceland Express is keen to differentiate itself from other budget airlines. “We’re not in-your-face and trying to get you to buy something,” said Valgeir Agust Bjarnason, manager of revenue and route development at the carrier. “Our priority is to ensure you have a pleasant flight.”
It is currently the only low-cost carrier to offer in-flight entertainment. Its IFE system offers films, TV programmes and games on demand for £6 per flight. It has also introduced a new onboard menu with an emphasis on good-value, healthy food.
Bjarnason admitted that the company had been affected by the economic downturn, which has hit Iceland particularly badly, but added: “Compared with others we are doing quite well. There are positives and negatives. Icelanders are travelling less but more foreigners are visiting [because of the weak krona].”
Iceland Express’s rival, Icelandair, flies to Reykjavik from London Heathrow twice a day.
To mark the launch of the Gatwick route Iceland Express is offering flights for £49 one way including taxes. The offer applies to flights in May and travel must be booked from 20-22 April.
Report by Michelle Mannion