Aviation pioneers since 1944
The story of Loftleiðir Icelandic began on March 10, 1944, when three young Icelandic pilots founded Loftleiðir after returning from their flight training in Canada.
The early days
In the beginning, Loftleiðir served only the domestic market, but in 1947, on June 17, the Icelandic National Day, the company launched its first international route between Reykjavík and Copenhagen. Douglas DC-4 Skymaster, the first international airplane in Iceland, was used on this route.
In 1948, US president Harry S. Truman signed the Civil Aeronautics Board document, which permitted Loftleiðir Icelandic to start flights to the United States.
On August 26, 1948, Loftleiðir operated its first commercial flight between Iceland and the US. There were 46 passengers on board the Douglas DC-4 Skymaster en route to Idlewild Airport, today known as JFK Airport serving New York City.
In 1952 Loftleiðir launched its scheduled service between New York and Europe via Iceland, which Icelandair still operates over 70 years later. Hjalmar Finnson, president of Loftleiðir, supervised the company's application to the FAA. His experience in the American business environment played a crucial role in the company's success.
The growth of Loftleiðir Icelandic was marked by several milestones in the 1950s, when a sales office opened in Copenhagen and another Skymaster aircraft, named Geyser, was added to the fleet.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, Loftleiðir pioneered as a low-fare service airline across the North Atlantic, connecting New York and Luxembourg.
Loftleiðir Icelandic and Icelandair
The airline became popular among college students traveling abroad and even got the nickname 'The Hippie Airline'. Former US president Bill Clinton was among the passengers flying Loftleiðir Icelandic.
When the company acquired bigger and faster aircraft and faced difficulties with IATA working against its low-cost price strategy, the Luxembourg route became its lifeline in crossing the Atlantic, laying the groundwork for its future success. In the early 1970s, Loftleiðir Icelandic grew into an enterprise employing hundreds of people in its sales offices in the US and Europe.
Seeing the world economy worsen and increased competition with Flugfelag Islands, the Icelandic government convinced the two carriers to merge. In 1973 Loftleiðir Icelandic and Flugfelag Islands were joined and became Icelandair.
The name Flugfelag Islands returned to use again in 1997 when the domestic operations of Icelandair and Flugfelag Nordurlands merged. In 2003 the name Loftleiðir Icelandic made a comeback to service the skies as Icelandair's aircraft lease and charter flights provider.
Icelandic, but operating globally
We are focused on creating tailormade solutions to aviation needs in all corners of the world. Our diverse projects range from full charter services to aircraft leasing. These projects have taken Loftleiðir Icelandic's aviation expertise and flexible, reliable fleet to various airports across the globe.