Icelandair is set to fly to yet another U.S. destination starting May 15, 2013. It’ll start serving Anchorage, Alaska with two flights a week. It’s only seasonal service, so it will only last through mid-September, according to the Alaska Dispatch.
This news made a few things pop into my head.
First, no news outlet has asked Icelandair the interesting question: What’s the purpose of this intercontinental flight? Who’s it going to serve? Tourists? Business travelers? If the latter, what sort of business connections are Alaska and Iceland forging? What’s the bigger, more-interesting story behind this route? How did Anchorage land it? The Denver Post did a decent job when Icelandair announced seasonal service to Denver International Airport … so why is even the Washington Post satisfied to ralph up the Icelandair press release close to verbatim?
Second, I see this as yet another sign that foreign airlines are eager to push into the United States. I recently wrote that Norwegian Air Shuttle will soon have the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in its fleet … and it hasn’t announced all of its destinations. Who are the players, as far as U.S. airports? Who is jockeying to connect to Norway? As for the why – it has a sound economy, and it’s a spectacular destination for travelers. The former is important because it represents a chance for American cities to connect with a solid eonomic power. And let’s not forget that Air New Zealand is also looking to shack up with more U.S. airports.
My final thought brings me back to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as so many things do … or rather, to its lack of intercontinental flights. I’ve watched other airports announce new intercontinental flights while Sky Harbor acts like a wallflower at the high-school dance. It makes me wonder if Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport isn’t Arizona’s future for intercontinental travel. It has the runway space, that’s for sure. How long will Phoenix-Mesa Gateway stay content with Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit? A long shot, I know, since so much traffic connects at Sky Harbor. But a few more domestic airlines could position Phoenix-Mesa Gateway to oust Sky Harbor. And it’s really not addressed in its master plan. But who knows? Master plans can change when opportunities arise.