Icelandair Makes Pittsburgh Debut

Nonstop Iceland flights return, PIT’s Europe network doubles

By Evan Dougherty and Julie Bercik

Published May 20, 2024

Read Time: 4 mins

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At 7:16 p.m. May 16, Icelandair’s first nonstop flight between Reykjavik, Iceland, and Pittsburgh touched down on Pittsburgh International Airport’s Runway 32 under clear afternoon skies.

“Icelandair 831… welcome to Pittsburgh,” PIT Air Traffic Control transmitted to the flight crew as the aircraft exited the runway.

Upon landing, the flight taxied to gate C55 and a huge gate party with passengers, airport staff and Icelandair representatives celebrating Pittsburgh’s newest airline and nonstop flight to Europe. The celebration included a Northern Lights-themed cake, an ice sculpture of an Icelandair plane, balloons and free Iceland-themed giveaways.

PIT and travelers also celebrated Icelandair throughout the week in the Airside Center Core with cutouts of Icelandic horses and glaciers, a balloon wall of the Icelandic flag, a prize wheel, cookies and PIT-themed swag items.

Icelandair’s inaugural flight marked the return of nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and Iceland for the first time in over five years. The route was last served by start-up WOW Air between June 2017 and January 2019.

“We hope that this will make it easier for the people of Pennsylvania to visit our beautiful island, enjoy its nature and get to know our culture,” said Icelandair Chief Commercial Officer Tomas Ingason, who arrived on the inaugural flight from Reykjavik.

Reykjavik is Pittsburgh’s second nonstop destination to Europe, joining British Airways’ existing service to London Heathrow.

With Icelandair operating four weekly flights to Reykjavik and British Airways’ six weekly flights to London, PIT is now connected to Europe via nonstop service seven days a week. Combined, both airlines will offer more than 5,000 seats per month this summer, the most nonstop transatlantic capacity between Pittsburgh and Europe since 2018.

“Icelandair is part of the growing international portfolio that we have here in Pittsburgh,” said Bryan Dietz, PIT’s senior vice president of Air Service and Commercial Development. “This is great news for the people of Pittsburgh, for the people of Iceland and those who are going to discover not only what Pittsburgh has to offer, but what Europe has to offer.”

Icelandair’s Pittsburgh-Reykjavik route is expected to generate approximately $9 million in economic impact to the region and support 80 local jobs.

While Icelandair will provide a link for Pittsburghers eager to visit Iceland, the flight is also expected to bring leisure and business traffic from Europe to the region.

Icelandair operates the Pittsburgh-Reykjavik route on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays seasonally through late October. Flown with a Boeing 737 MAX 8, the outbound flight departs Pittsburgh at 8:30 p.m. and arrives in Reykjavik at 6:25 a.m. local time. The inbound flight departs Reykjavik at 4:55 p.m. local time and arrives in Pittsburgh at 7:20 p.m.

 Icelandair - Inaugural Flight - PIT

More Europe connections… and with a stopover

With Icelandair, travelers can connect seamlessly to more than 25 destinations across continental Europe. Icelandair’s network is based on a 24-hour rotation, with connecting flights leaving Iceland in the mornings and afternoons.

Mark Lazur of Pittsburgh, a passenger on the first departure, was flying to Rome via Reykjavik for a 10-day cruise around Italy and Greece.

Lazur traveled to Reykjavik last summer via a connecting flight. Now, he’s thankful to reach Iceland again with a nonstop from Pittsburgh.

“Last year, to get to Reykjavik, we had to stop in Toronto first. Now we’re going straight to Reykjavik, which is wonderful,” he said.

When connecting, travelers on Icelandair can choose a novel stopover option: a week-long layover in Iceland with no additional airfare charge before continuing to their final destination.

Students Sarah Bauer of Waupaca, Wisc., and Alex Heship-Rosales of St. Paul, Minn., also were on the inaugural flight traveling together. They were in Pittsburgh attending the Festival of Homiletics and were flying to Berlin for a class trip with Luther Seminary.

Bauer and Heship-Rosales chose Icelandair based on price but were surprised to discover Icelandair’s stopover option. Excited, they took advantage of Icelandair’s offering, adding a 4-day stopover in Iceland before connecting to Berlin.

“I assumed it would be like a 12-hour layover and would have to sleep on the flight or in the airport and it would be way tiring,” Bauer said. “I’m excited about the fact that you can go to sleep on the flight and then wake up, it’s morning in Iceland and you can be ready to go about the day.”

“It’s cool to have the layover built in because it gives us the chance to see the area, puffins and the Northern Lights,” Heship-Rosales said. “Just to see the landscape and volcanoes, I’m really excited.”

Lazur, a long-time Pittsburgh native, is excited to see more service between Pittsburgh and Europe among the increases in nonstop flights and destinations added at PIT.

“Pittsburgh is a great place to live,” he said. “The more people that get to experience it, the better.”

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