Birgir Jónsson, chief executive officer of airline Play is open to accept cryptocurrency if the industry and market should move in that direction, he told BitcoinNews.
The two year old airline from Iceland launched its first connecting route between the US and Europe on April 21 deploying Airbus 320neo. At the inauguration event at Baltimore (BWI) gate D9, Jónsson and his crew were welcomed by airport staff and executives to celebrate and congratulate.
Jónsson, former deputy ceo of WOW air, a shortlived Icelandic ultra low-cost carrier, is recognized as a seasoned aviation executive aiming to develop Iceland into a new hub for affordable transatlantic connections.
On the question how much he knows about Bitcoin, PLAY ceo Birgir Jónsson replies: “Not so much but I would sell you a ticket for one Bitcoin.”
Jónsson further pointed out that Play probably won’t be a leader in the adoption of cryptocurrency in the aviation industry but rather a follower in case the industry as a whole goes ahead.
“Well, I think we’re not going to lead it but if that’s what the industry does we’ll follow but we’re not going to be a leader”
On the question how much he knows about Bitcoin, Mr Jonsson said:
“I’m to old for understanding Bitcoin, I have no idea but what I do know is that there is a huge mining operation in Iceland, so we are benefiting from the crypto revolution, but I will never be a guy that understands it.”
Although Play does not have plans to accept Bitcoin, the aviation industry is already starting to get in motion. First movers such as AirBaltic and booking site Travala allow customers to book flights with bitcoin. Bitcoiners are avid travelers and even more, enjoy to support good businesses that make their life easier. When a company accepts bitcoin, bitcoiners will be flocking in shortly after.
Sadly, startup airlines have to play by the rules as the competition is tough and powerful. Undoubtedly, it could be a grand coup for an airline to bring lightning in the skies. Considering that approximately 300 million people around the globe already own a type of cryptocurrency, a large market segment could be milked.
Full interview with Birgir Jonsson CEO of PLAY
Congratulations for establishing the new connection between Washington/Baltimore and Reykjavik Iceland, what goes into opening a new route?
An unbelievable amount of work that no one outside of aviation can really grasp, the details of ensuring everyone has the correct boarding passes, especially in this hub-and-spoke network where the luggage goes through to their final destination is a massive IT effort. We basicaly had to re-write our booking engine from the beginning. Then there is legislation issues and it’s really complex, it’s so much more complex than just turning the aircraft the other way.
It’s the first time that health documents aren’t required anymore, is this a great relief for you?
Yes, I believe all the aviation and tourist industry in the world is celebrating this. One thing is that there were some requirements, the other issue was that they were always changing and they are still different between destinations and that creates a lot of anxiety and a lot of confusion so the more simple and clear the rules are, the better everyone.
From your experience with wow you said you don’t want to grow too fast, what are your next steps?
We prefer to not grow as fast as WOW but when you go from zero to something, the acceleration is always going to be quiet fast. It’s easy to talk just about the fleet plan, we have six aircrafts now we started with three and we’ll grow to ten next spring and then twelve and fifteen by 2025. And that is the kind of acceleration we would like to see. We don’t want to get too big, we want to be flexible but we have to reach a certain scale and we’re reaching that scale this year with six to eight aircrafts.
Volcano Cake To Celebrate
Just before the boarding starts, a cake is cut in pieces and it has the shape of a volcano. Could the volcano cake on the table foreshadow a similar volcanic adoption we observed in El Salvador? Iceland has made itself a name to attract a flourishing bitcoin mining industry and remained more independent from banks and EU regulations. Hopefully entrepreneurs like Jónsson can do their part to push innovation and adoption further.