Icelandair weathers the crunch with suspension of Scottish flights

by Margaret Kearns

Icelandair, the only commercial carrier offering flights from Scotland to Iceland has made the decision to suspend the operation of it’s flights from Glasgow airport after 60 years of regular Scottish scheduling. The move comes as the Icelandic economy spirals into a downturn on the back of the Global Financial crisis.

Tourists and business people alike now finds themselves faced with ferry passage from Scrabster in Lerwick as their only means of direct travel to the Nordic destination. With the typical journey from Edinburgh to Reykjavik incorporating over 630 miles of driving.

The usual influx of Icelandic shoppers to Edinburgh and Glasgow during the crucial Christmas period is also expected to be a non-entity this year as Norse shoppers are likely to fly to English destinations such as London and Manchester as a cheap and inconvenient alternative. Scott Taylor, chief executive of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “This has happened purely because of the collapse of the economy in Iceland, where salaries are half what they were just weeks ago. In real terms we’re talking 3000 short-break visitors to Glasgow, which may not seem an awful lot but they are significant spenders”.

Icelandair are expected to announce the suspension in the coming days, with the implementation of the plan expected as soon as the beginning of next month. Seats on the airlines’ booking site are still available for purchase up to the 18th January although it remains to be seen whether bookings made for this period will be honoured or cancelled after the announcement. Reports are surfacing that the suspension is anticipated to run for at least four months with some travel and tour operators predicting a strong possibility that the route will not recommence after March.

Passengers who have booked flights from Reykjavik to destinations in the U.S. in the New Year have a nervous wait ahead as they wait to see if their travel arrangements to Reykjavik will be thrown into chaos.