Icelandic imports finally start recovery

Icelandair Cargo Boeing 757-200

Both imports and exports grew in the final quarter of 2015, and imports are finally starting to recover following the 2008 financial crisis, Icelandair Cargo managing director, Gunnar Mar Sigurfinnsson, tells Air Cargo Week (ACW).

Sigurfinnsson says: “Business was acceptable, especially in the later part of the year.  We saw a very good increase during the last four months which gave us acceptable results by the end of the year.  Both imports and exports grew quite well in the last quarter.”

Imports have started to recover, having fallen dramatically during the 2008 financial crisis. Sigurfinnsson says: “Import particularly has been increasing, but one has to bear in mind that it went drastically down in year 2008, during the economic crises we had and has hardly recovered since then until now.”

He tells ACW that Icelandair is confident that the growth in imports is sustainable though still below 2007 levels, and exports are expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.

Fresh fish to the European and North American markets remain Iceland’s biggest export, and a well organised logistics chain means it can be in the shops abroad within 36 hours of being caught off of Iceland’s coast. Sigurfinnsson says: “By combining the freighter operation and the passenger operation we can offer direct service for the fresh fish to more than 40 destinations.”

Icelandair has a number of expansion plans for 2016, including introducing Boeing 767-300s to its fleet, and adding locations such as Chicago and Montreal to its network.

Describing the 767, Sigurfinnsson says: “Those aircrafts are equipped with containers and carry up to four times the volume we can carry with a B757 so that will open up a lot of opportunities for us, especially considering moving products from Europe to North America and vice versa.”

Icelandair offers direct services to 12 airports in the US, five in Canada and 31 across Europe, and now five in Greenland. “The operation is very well connected so it is easy to send products crossing the Atlantic as well as to Greenland from both Europe and North America.”

The world is taking an increasing interest in Iceland, meaning Icelandair Cargo is facing increased competition, though that can also be seen as a good thing. Sigurfinnsson points out: “Increased competition creates lot of opportunities for a small market like Iceland, as it draws lot of attention to our markets, which in the end increases all business at our home market.”