PLAY Airlines reports its November Traffic figures, showing an average 75% passenger load factor and a 42% increase in passenger numbers. The airline also says demand is picking up as the news cycle moves on from volcanic activity.
In November, PLAY Airlines experienced a significant increase in passenger numbers. The airline carried 107,236 passengers, representing a 42% growth compared to November 2022, when it transported 75,396 passengers. However, the airline’s passenger load factor experienced a decline, dropping from 79% last year to 74.5% this year.
The airline attributes the decrease to the recent seismic activity in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The event garnered global news coverage due to the potential volcanic eruption that could disrupt air travel. Consequently, last-minute bookings declined during the month. Despite this setback, PLAY Airlines achieved a commendable on-time performance of 88.9% in November 2023.
Despite the decline in load factor, PLAY Airlines witnessed year-on-year growth in their unit revenue (RASK). This growth was particularly impressive considering the 54% increase in available seat kilometers (ASK). Additionally, ancillary revenue for the airline experienced a noteworthy rise. It increased by 30% in November 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. This positive trend indicates a promising outlook for the months ahead.
In November 2023, 26.2% of passengers departed from Iceland, 32.7% traveled to Iceland, and 41.2% were connecting passengers. These figures indicate a balanced mix of local and transit passengers contributing to PLAY Airlines’ operations.
So far this year, PLAY Airlines has flown 1.4 million passengers, maintaining an average load factor of 84%. Of those, 26.9% of passengers departed from Iceland, 32.6% were flying to Iceland, and 40.5% were connecting passengers. These numbers demonstrate a consistent pattern of passenger distribution throughout 2023 for PLAY Airlines.
PLAY’s Record Sales Day in November
In the wake of seismic activity in the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, PLAY initially experienced a decline in demand. However, the airline recently triumphed with a remarkable sales surge in the final week of November. Notably, this surge coincided with a decrease in media coverage of the seismic activity and the peak sales days of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Travel Tuesday. This positive development signifies a recovery in demand following the Reykjanes situation. Nevertheless, the airline may face short-term repercussions due to these events.
Demand Returning to the Market
Birgir Jonsson, CEO of PLAY commented on the results, saying:
“In November, we saw our load factor being impacted by the awesome forces of nature here in Iceland when seismic activity, earthquakes, and the possibility of a volcanic eruption captured headlines around the world. The town of Grindavík was evacuated on short notice, and the nearby Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most popular tourist destination, was, and still is, temporarily closed due to this uncertainty.
“The demand for air travel, and specifically for Iceland as a tourist destination, was subsequently reduced in the short term. This temporary cooldown of demand can be felt in our load factor data for the month of November, and it’s clear that the same will apply for December as well. In recent days, we have seen the demand returning to the market, which is very positive and reassuring for the coming months but a little too late for the short-term travel season, before Christmas and in the new year.
“Iceland, however, is still very much open for tourists, and there has been no disruption of aviation at all. Now it looks like the situation has become more stable, and we at PLAY wish the very best for the people of the small town of Grindavík, where many of our colleagues and friends live, and we hope that they can return to their homes and normal lives as soon as possible. I wish to thank the fantastic team of Players for their efforts and how they have reacted to this challenging scenario in the last few weeks. I’m always so proud to see the level of professionalism and dedication that our teams possess.”