Icelandair is preparing to become the first national flag carrier airline to operate with emissions-free aircrafts. The company wants to decarbonize its operations via electricity fueled or hydrogen fuel cell aircrafts and become carbon-free by the end of this decade.
“We’re focusing on having our domestic operation carbon-free by the end of this decade,” said Bogi Nils Bogason, President and Chief Executive Officer at Icelandair Group.
Icelandair is a leading avio company in Iceland, offering flights to Iceland and Europe from the USA. It operates three domestic routes from Reykjavík airport to Egilsstadir, Akureyri and Ísafjördur. The longest flight is to Egilsstadir and takes an hour.
Even though other major aviation companies have announced plans to operate some regional flights with electric or hydrogen-powered aircrafts, Icelandair is the first of the traditional national airlines to target entirely carbon-free domestic flights.
“We believe it’s realistic that this will happen within a few years and we’ll be the first airline, or the first country, to have carbon-free domestic aviation,” added Mr Bogason.
Back in September, Icelandair signed a letter of intent with Sweden’s Heart Aerospace about potentially purchasing the manufacturer’s 30-seat ES-30 aircraft, a regional aircraft powered by batteries and with a back-up conventional engine.
In July 2021, it made a similar agreement with the US’s Universal Hydrogen – a company mainly focused on providing hydrogen fuel systems to airlines. The idea is to convert Icelandair’s existing 37-seat Dash-8 turboprops to hydrogen power.
According to Universal Hydrogen, Icelandair could decarbonize its domestic route network “starting as early as 2026”. The avio company is also in a good position having the opportunity to use abundant geothermal energy.
People in the aviation industry are waiting for Icelandair to introduce the technology and show the way forward for others as well. Other countries with abundant renewable electricity are also suitable to power their aircrafts and economies.