On 12 March 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts were suspended which has caused adverse effects on Icelandair‘s operations. The suspension of the MAX aircraft has resulted in unprecedented impact on the operations of Icelandair in 2019. The Company’s MAX aircraft were intended to cover 27% of Icelandair’s passenger capacity in 2019. The key focus of management has been on minimizing the impact of the suspension on the company, the passengers and the Icelandic tourism industry by adding leased aircraft to the fleet during the summer and by placing emphasis on ensuring seating capacity to and from Iceland, with the result that the number of Icelandair’s passengers travelling to Iceland increased by 25% from 2018. Despite these mitigating measures the situation has had negative impact on revenue in the passenger network, increased expenses and restricted the utilization of the fleet and crew. Two partial compensation agreements were reached with Boeing in connection with the company’s loss due to the suspension. This was recognized partially as increased passenger revenue and partially as decreased aircraft lease expense in aviation expenses. Details on these agreements with Boeing are confidential. The estimated effect quantified to date on Icelandair Group's EBIT net the partial compensations is around USD 100 million in 2019.
There is still uncertainity when the MAX aircraft suspension will be lifted. The financial impact will however be considerably less in the year 2020 than in 2019 as Icelandair has been able to organize its operations in 2020 with this possible scenario in mind. The Company is in ongoing discussions with Boeing regarding further compensation for the financial loss resulting from the suspension
The Company is still expecting 10 MAX aircraft to be delivered. The initial delivery schedule was that 3 of these MAX aircraft were to be delivered in 2019, 5 MAX aircraft in 2020 and 2 MAX aircraft in 2021. The Company expects the 3 MAX aircraft that were to be delivered in 2019 to be delivered before the end of 2020. However, the Company realizes that further delays may be expected. The suspension has already had significant adverse effects on the Company’s operation and profitability and will continue to do so while the suspension remains. Therefore, the development of the situation with the MAX aircraft is closely monitored by the Company and rolling 12-18 months contingency plans are maintained to ensure that all mitigating actions are made during this time period.
In 2019 many operational improvements materialized but due to the negative impact resulting from the MAX suspension the full year operation resulted in net loss. The Company’s key goal in 2020 is to return to profitability by building on the operational improvements and mitigate the operational risk of the potential continued MAX suspension. With USD 301.6 million in liquidity and USD 482.5 million in equity, the company is well equipped to address challenges and seize opportunities and thereby generate long term profitable growth.