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Icelandair has removed Tampa, Florida, from its network due to a shortage of planes following the Boeing 737 MAX groundings. The airline also recently halted service to both Cleveland and Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the same reason.
MAX aircraft — which have been grounded since March following two crashes that killed 346 people — make up 14% of Icelandair’s fleet, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which was the first to report Icelandair’s suspension of Tampa flights.
The move comes as the MAX grounding has created a disruption in Icelandair’s overall operation. The airline recently laid off 45 737 MAX pilots, citing uncertainty regarding when the planes would be allowed to fly again.
Icelandair has leased three aircraft to help cover its routes during its plane shortage, but this has not prevented the airline from making cuts to its network, according to the Times. Icelandair confirmed the cancellation was caused by concerns about its fleet size.
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“Due to the 737 MAX grounding, we have had to make adjustments in our schedule,” the airline said to the newspaper.
Nonstop flights from Tampa International (TPA) to Reykjavik began two years ago, and their cancellation is the second hit to international service at the airport this year. Delta, which announced year-round flights between Amsterdam and TPA, also changed its schedule, making the new service seasonal instead. Despite these changes, seat capacity to Europe from TPA is up 16% from last year.
The airport has cited growth in western Europe and Scandinavia as central to its international growth, but TPA spokeswoman Janet Scherberger told the Times that she expects that market to continue growing despite Icelandair’s withdrawal.
“Icelandair represented a tiny fraction of our passengers — about a 1/10th of a percent of our overall annual passengers year-to-date and less than 2 percent of international passengers,” she said to the newspaper. Scherberger added that Lufthansa and Norwegian have both expanded services to the airport for the coming year.
Featured image by by David Ryder/Getty Images.
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