Icelandair said yesterday that it will suspend its daily service to Reykjavik from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Jan. 9 and resume service March 8 with only four flights a week because of an anticipated drop in demand.
The airline has offered service between Iceland and BWI since 1990 and has maintained its North American headquarters in Columbia since 1994. It currently has daily flights to Reykjavik.
Gunnar Eklund, general manager for Icelandair's American operations, said the airline was suspending service during the winter in both Baltimore and Minneapolis-St. Paul. It also is dropping one flight from New York but will maintain daily service from Boston.
"We regret this temporary inconvenience to our customers and appreciate their continued loyalty as we strive to further strengthen our route network, enabling us to reinstate year-round service as soon as possible," Eklund said in a statement.
The suspension is a first for Icelandair at BWI, according to airport spokeswoman Tracy Newman. She said officials were confident that flights would be resumed.
"They've never totally suspended service at BWI before; they've cut back," Newman said. "They have suspended service at other airports and always come back. So at BWI, we're not concerned. This is just temporary."
The carrier is one of seven that offers international service from BWI, which opened a terminal for them in 1997 with hopes of greatly expanding overseas flights. But the airport has struggled to lure and maintain international service in the shadow of Washington Dulles International Airport, the main international gateway for the region.
British Airways offers regular service from BWI to London, but most other carriers are small and fly to closer destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.
North American Airlines said it would begin scheduled service to West Africa in June, offsetting the loss of Air Ghana, which was grounded in 2004. Mexicana airlines began offering service to Mexico City in December after dumping service to Cancun in 1991. Aer Lingus, the Irish airline, left BWI last year, but Air Greenland is seeking to fly from the airport.
"Icelandair's success on the trans-Atlantic route from the United States since 1948 has been due to our ability to quickly and easily adapt to fluctuations in the market," Eklund said. "Our hub-and-spoke route network, in addition to the relatively small size of our company, provide immediate flexibility to change as required."