The near catastrophic collapse of leading Icelandic banks has forced Reykjavik-based executive charter operator Icejet to take refuge further south by basing four of its five Dornier 328Jets overseas. Two of the aircraft now reside at Oxford Airport in the UK–a 14-seat VIP Envoy model and a 19-seat corporate shuttle version. Another Envoy is based at Paris Le Bourget Airport and a third aircraft operates out of the Latvian capital Riga.
Icejet managing director Jon Ingi Jonsson freely admitted that the company has probably had it harder than almost any other European charter operator over the past six turbulent months. Quite apart from the sharp dip in demand for flights, Iceland’s banking crisis resulted in severe difficulties in receiving the income that it was able to earn. Receiving more pay in the euro currency has at least insulated the company from the severe devaluation of the Icelandic krona.
Jonsson claimed that the 328Jets are proving to be attractive alternatives to aircraft such as Bombardier’s Global Express or Challenger 604. The former regional airliners offer a spacious stand-up cabin, more than 1,500 pounds of baggage capacity and 1,200-nm range (increasing to 2,000 nm with auxiliary fuel tanks).
“We are proving popular with rock groups and princesses,” said Jonsson, who is also a 328Jet captain. Until last October, Icejet often flew Iceland’s aggressive entrepreneurs into Europe to do deals–some of which were to prove to be their undoing.
Iceland’s financial crisis prompted Icejet to consider changing its name but it decided not to do so. However, it has not ruled out selling one or more of its aircraft as it adjusts to the new market realities. That said, Jonsson believes that demand for charter has started to recover in recent weeks.
The company (Static Stand 32) is owned by the Nordic Partners Investment Group. It also has its own Part 145 maintenance operation in Reykjavik called Hangar One, as well as a handling provider called IceFBO.