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The history of Icelandair

In 1937, a new airline named Flugfélag Akureyrar was founded in northern Iceland. This was the beginning of Icelandair.

After eight decades of operation, our history reflects the spirit of the Icelandic nation, its resourcefulness and innovation.

Icelandair is a member of:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) since 1950
  • AEA (Association of European Airlines) since 1957
  • FSF (Flight Safety Foundation) since 1966.

First steps

1937 A fledgling airline named Flugfélag Akureyrar is founded in Akureyri on Iceland's north coast.

1940 Flugfélag Akureyrar moves its headquarters to the capital, Reykjavík, and changes its name to Flugfélag Íslands. The company later assumes the international trade name Icelandair.

1944 Three young Icelandic pilots, returning from flight training in Canada, found Loftleidir, later also known as Icelandic Airlines. 

1945-7 Initially, both Flugfélag Íslands and Loftleidir concentrate on domestic air services. In 1945 Flugfélag Íslands makes its first international flights to Scotland and Denmark. Loftleidir begins international operations in 1947.

1953 Loftleidir commences its pioneering low-fare services across the North Atlantic. 
1973 Flugfélag Íslands and Loftleidir merge under a new holding company, Flugleidir.

1979 Flugleidir assumes all operating responsibilities of its two 'parents,' and decides to use Icelandair as its international trade name. It retains the Flugleidir name in the domestic market. 

A new era

1987 On the 50th anniversary of the company, a breakthrough agreement is signed with the Boeing company to renew Icelandair's international fleet.

1989-93 A new generation of Boeing jets, Boeing 757-200 and 737-400 gradually replaces the older fleet.

2003 A single-type fleet of Boeing 757 is established by 2003.

2003 Flugleidir becomes a holding company with 11 subsidiaries in the travel and tourism industry in Iceland. Icelandair is the largest subsidiary.

The path forward

2005 Flugleidir changes its name to FL Group and the holding company announces its emphasis on investment. Later in the year, investments become the focus of FL Group and its acquisitions and corporations are divided into groups – the Icelandair Group being one of them.

2005 Icelandair's route network incorporates a Boeing 767 serving San Francisco, the airline's first destination on the US west coast.

2006 Icelandair Group is listed as ICEAIR on the Iceland Stock Exchange after being sold from FL Group.

2007 Icelandair Group celebrates 70 years of operations.

2013 A contract with Boeing is signed, confirming an order of 16 737 MAX8 and 737 MAX9 aircraft, with an option to buy an additional eight aircraft. The delivery of the first aircraft is scheduled for early 2018. 

2016 Passengers in the international route network amount to over 3.7 million, up from 1.3 million passengers in 2009.  

2017 Icelandair Group celebrates 80 years of operations. It is estimated that the number of passengers transported in 2017 will reach 4 million.

2021 The domestic airline Air Iceland Connect and Icelandair, both members of Icelandair Group, integrate their operations, with the consequence that new destinations are added to Icelandair's network: Egilsstaðir, Akureyri and Ísafjörður in Iceland; Nuuk, Ilulissat, Narsarsuaq and Kulusuk in Greenland.


Flying since 1937

In 2017, we celebrate Icelandair's 80th anniversary. Our history can be traced back to 1937, and throughout the 20th century Icelandair has been a leading force in Icelandic aviation.
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