PLAY (FPY, Reykjavik Keflavik), the Icelandic low-cost carrier startup that had intended to launch services in winter 2019, now plans to commence operations this autumn, chief executive Arnar Már Magnússon has revealed.

Despite the complications posed in the coronavirus era, the airline is still sufficiently well funded, he assured.

“We could manage to start in just days or weeks. But we are currently planning on starting later on towards the autumn, in terms of scheduled flights, though we could start sooner if needed,” Magnússon told the Icelandic broadcaster RÚV.

The company has “already secured several” A320 Family aircraft and “we have good access to more of them,” he said.

“We already have crews for the start, and we also have access to the wonderful former employees of [bankrupt carrier] WOW air, who are of course trained to work with this type of aircraft,” Magnússon said, adding that the company currently employs 36 people.

“There are sufficient resources for PLAY to operate. The company has strong ownership, and Elías Skúli Skúlason is leading a group of investors,” he said.

In late January, it emerged that Skúlason, co-owner of Reykjavik Keflavik ground handling services firm Airport Associates, was leading a group of new investors in PLAY. Airport Associates was forced to lay off 131 employees at the end of April, according to RÚV.

All investors in the startup are Icelandic, Magnússon said, but he declined to disclose the amounts of capital pledged to the project.

Both PLAY and Airport Associates are on the list of companies that have taken advantage of a government subsidy system, RÚV reported, in which employees can claim unemployment benefits to encourage businesses to keep them on their payrolls part-time instead of laying them off.

Magnússon told the online newspaper Vísir that PLAY would lease Airbus aircraft, initially starting with one and gradually building up. The company has applied to the Flight Safety Division of the Icelandic Transport Authority for an air operator’s licence. He also said he wanted no conflict with flag carrier Icelandair (FI, Reykjavik Keflavik).

“We have certainly gone through so many difficulties here and wish them all the best, and hopefully this will go well. We are primarily focusing on ourselves and getting started, so ensuring competition for Icelandic consumers.”