Cranky on the Web: Icelandair Leaves Kansas City

Cranky on the Web

After Icelandair leaves Kansas City, can KCI land another nonstop flight to Europe?Kansas City Star
The local paper took a deep look at Icelandair leaving Kansas City and interviewed me along with a ton of others. My entire thoughts aren’t in the article, but effectively, Icelandair must have seen Kansas City as one of the weakest performers in the network. That shouldn’t necessarily mean the airport can’t support a European flight, but it’s also not a good sign.

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23 comments on “Cranky on the Web: Icelandair Leaves Kansas City

    1. It is, but I think it isn’t uncommon for local media to use KCI as an abbreviation for their local audience. I have also seen references to DIA – Denver International Airport.

      Non-local media presumably would use neither MCI nor KCI.

      1. You’ll see this here in Tampa sometimes too, with media referring to the airport as “TIA” rather than “TPA”.

  1. I don’t see how Icelandair flights are considered “non stop” to Europe. Maybe Iceland is technically in Europe, but few are flying Icelandair to stay or visit Iceland. Their flights are really one stop for anyone going to a real location in Europe. I’m sure Kansas City travelers have many choices to get to London, Paris, Rome or Amsterdam with a one stop connecting flight.with many airlines. Why the big push by the locals for Icelandair?

    1. I was going to say the same thing – the Icelandair route is only “direct” if your final destination is Iceland. For the majority of travelers going to Europe, they will continue to fly a one-stop route to London, Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, etc. – they’ll just connect through JFK, EWR, PHL, etc. instead of through KEF. Unless you specifically wanted to fly to Iceland this is no big deal for actual travelers.

      I think the real issue is a status/prestige thing. Kansas City locals see “an airport with flights to Europe” as a marker of an important/significant metro area, and it’s disappointing to take that away.

      1. Alex – don’t use the term “direct” when you mean non-stop. In the airline industry they aren’t the same. Non-stop is exactly what it says with a flight from point A to point B with no stops (like the flight from KC to Iceland). Direct is a flight from point A to point B with 1 or more stops on the route but keeps the same flight number. A “direct” flight is not non-stop!

        BTW plenty of people do visit Iceland. Wonderful country and you should try it!

        1. To add, “direct” flights keep the same flight number, but sometimes require a change of planes. Thus, other than being sold as a “direct” routing (Point A to Point B, via Point Z) and (presumably; someone correct me if I’m wrong) having a much lower risk of “missing” the second segment (Z to B) if the first segment (A to Z) is delayed, a “direct” flight isn’t necessarily all that different from a regular itinerary from A to B with a connection at Z.

    1. Not directly. I read somewhere that there’s a marked decrease in Chinese tourism to the US as a result of the trade tension but otherwise, nothing extreme.

    2. This has nothing to do w Trump (or anything else in US) and everything to do w the drastic drop in Icelandic tourism after the collapse of WOW. Their economy is suffering and Icelandair is in cost cutting mode. This isn’t the only city they have dropped

      1. Why would the WOW situation impact Icelandair negatively? Wouldn’t they see more demand and be able to command higher fares due to lack of competition? I surely am not going to not fly Icelandair because WOW is gone. And a weaker economy means less competition for hotels, car rentals, and thus cheaper vacation for me.

        However, Icelandair has been impacted by the MAX mess. They had to lease five replacement aircraft, which presumably is more expensive than operating their own fleet. And those leases are coming to an end.

        “To minimize the impact on its passengers, Icelandair has been operating five leased aircraft during the summer season. The leasing agreements of two of the aircraft expired at the end of August, the other two ceased operation at the end of September and one agreement has been extended until the end of October. ”

        https://www.icelandair.com/blog/statement-boeing-max-operations/

    3. There are so many variables l. Economy downturns across Europe and the weakness in the pound over Brexit plays a bigger role in it than TDS. China tourism effect the big guys like LA and NYC not Kansas City. Places like Nashville and Memphis has seen their international visitor number go up last year and this year. I doubt there was cery interest outside of business in KC from the other side of the pond. I live in Northwest Arkansas. A pla e like Memphis has way more upside with it food and musical heritage. In London, I saw Memohis style BBQ on two menu boards along the Thames and never KC style. Name a city mentioned more in rock music more than Memphis. It is part if the Music triangle, has the river connection, popular festival and an iconic entertainment district Sorry, the P&L isn’t there yet. This weekend in Memphis is the Music fest at Johhny Cash’s childhood home just across the river in Arkansas and the Mempho music feat at winderfull Shebly Farms headlined by Jack White led Raconteurs and Wu Tang Clan.

  2. Semi-wild prediction: KCI will get its next transatlantic flight when its new terminal opens, on either a 787-8 or an A321XLR. At which point they might be able to get away with not providing the ~$38 per passenger subsidy that Pittsburgh is throwing at BA for their flight.

    1. Which carrier do you imagine would operate that flight?

      US-based international carriers tend to mostly operate from hubs. And European carriers probably wouldn’t see a lot of demand from their home customer based to Kansas City.

      Does the A321XLR even have the range? MCI-LHR is 4339 miles, and Airbus seems to advertise a range of up to 4700 miles. Pretty close.

      1. How much “cushion” do you need beyond an aircraft’s listed range for a transatlantic route? Is it a fixed number of extra miles, or a percent of the total flight distance?

        1. Armchair speculation here: MCI-LHR **might** be doable with relatively light loads, given the winds, though I assume it would still be close. However, I can’t imagine that flying westbound (against the winds) without a fuel stop would be feasible, especially during times of very strong winds (traditionally in winter, I believe).

          If flying westbound would require a fuel stop, adding at least 60-90 minutes, would an airline even bother with the route, if it couldn’t offer true nonstop service in both directions? There are a few routes that do just that (often with pax clearing US immigration & customs while the plane’s tanks are topped off), but not many, and that could add enough time to the itinerary to make a flight connection at a hub (or traditional East Coast US port of entry, such as JFK/EWR/BOS) similar in terms of total travel time.

  3. The problem for Kansas City seems to be a combination of:

    * Geography – it’s deep into the continent, which puts it at the edge of the 757’s range at best (maybe, I’m not 100% sure)
    * A relatively small number of corporations likely to have a lot of international travel
    * A very small incoming tourist base

    This makes MCI largely dependent on outbound leisure travelers, who have a vast number of one-connection alternatives on the US side (and on Air Canada) to major (and even some smaller) European cities.

    Between better connections and a good-sized Irish-American community, Aer Lingus would appear to be MCI’s best bet for a transcontinental service, and it’s well with the range of the A320XLRs EI has on order. But Aer Lingus only has six XLRs on order and another six LRs (which I’m not sure have the legs for this routs?), and four of those will be earmarked for 757 replacement, so I”m not sure MCI will be far enough up the list to get service, at least not unless EI orders more of the long-range A321s.

  4. I don’t think Icelandair gave Kansas City a fair shake. They typically wouldn’t include some of the special pricing deals, it was seasonal and was mostly done to get short term incentives. When you pair that with limited interest in Iceland it was bound to stop. Kansas City could likely support a non-stop Europe flight to London or another major gateway. Being based out of MCI I’m glad Icelandair took a chance on KC regardless.

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