Icelandair drops Kansas City flight after boasting KCI’s only transatlantic service

Icelandair will drop its flights to and from Kansas City in 2020, the airline announced this week.

The airline in 2018 launched nonstop service between Kansas City International and Keflavik Airport near Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.

Kansas City leaders heralded the city’s first transatlantic flight as a boon for leisure travelers and a better connection for business travelers, who could connect to other European destinations from Iceland. They also viewed the move as improving the city’s chances of landing more overseas flights.

But Iceland Air officials this week cited “commercial reasons” for ending the service during the upcoming summer 2020 season. It also plans to discontinue nonstop service to San Francisco. The news release said the airline was reviewing its route to improve profitability and minimize risk in relation to the suspension of the Boeing MAX aircraft.

In March, the airline announced it had grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes following two crashes of those planes operated by other airlines that killed more than 300 people. Icelandair leased five jets during this summer season.

When the local service began last year, Kansas City was the nation’s largest transatlantic market without nonstop service, said Pat Klein, the airport’s director of aviation.

“I’m proud of the Aviation staff who worked so diligently to bring Icelandair to Kansas City and am thankful for the way this community supported the new service,” Klein said in a statement. “Going forward, Aviation staff will continue to meet with airlines with the intent to grow Kansas City’s international access.”

Prior to Icelandair’s arrival, Kansas City’s transatlantic summer demand averaged more than 400 daily passengers each way. After the Icelandair flights, that demand peaked to nearly 800 passengers per day each way in June of this year, airport officials said.

KCI opened a new $11.5 million international arrivals area in Terminal C in 2018 to house the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Service. The area has three gates for international travel. Aside from flights to Iceland, travelers can fly direct to Cancun, Mexico; Toronto, Canada, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic from the airport.

In July, airport officials reported Icelandair had recorded 5,137 total passenger boardings year to date — .03 % of the overall monthly market share for airlines at KCI.

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Kevin Hardy covers business for The Kansas City Star. He previously covered business and politics at The Des Moines Register. He also has worked at newspapers in Kansas and Tennessee. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas