Icelandair eyes 757 replacement


Icelandair has recently mentioned, that they are planning to replace their Boeing 757s in 2025 or 2026. Since this date isn’t too far away anymore, it’s worth taking a look at the possible aircraft models.

The 757-200, the model Icelandair mainly operates, seats around 200 passengers in two classes, depending on the configuration. With this configuration, it typically has a range of roughly 3,900nm.

If we take a look at aircraft manufacturers, only two are able to provide an aircraft of this size at the moment or the near future. Those two are Airbus and Boeing. In this case, the two aircraft that come closest are the Boeing 737-10 and the A321neo/XLR. The Boeing 737MAX-10 seats about 190 passengers in a 2-class configuration while the A321neo/XLR seats around 195 passengers. So, both have adequate capacity to replace the B752, especially considering that an adjustment of the number of business class seats is possible.

Icelandair’s current route network

Iceland has a unique position, positioning it roughly on the flight path of many transatlantic flights. This means, that a one-stop flight actually doesn’t cover much more distance than a direct flight. This means, that a long-haul flight can effectively be broken up into 2 pieces, which makes the usage of narrowbodies so attractive. However, the flights of Icelandair can still be relatively long, especially looking at the sectors to/from the US. Thus, an aircraft with a lot of range is favorable, at least to a certain point. In order for Icelandair to keep its current route network which it is “very happy with”, the aircraft replacement should roughly have the same range as the B757.

Boeing 737-10

While not certified as of now, the Boeing 737-10 is planned to have its entry into service within the next 2 years in 2023. The aircraft would have an approximate range of 3,300nm (5,700km) when operating at full capacity. While a large number of seats make this aircraft attractive due to the great financials per seat, the range is arguably the biggest downside of the Boeing 737-10. The range is not only significantly lower than the range of the Boeing 757-200 at 4000nm but even struggles against its predecessor the Boeing 737-900ER, which seats up to 215 passengers with a range of 3,200nm.

What could Icelandair reach with the 737-10?

737-10 (inner circle) vs. Boeing 757-200 (outer circle)

The MAX-10 would be able to reach a great amount of the Icelandair route network. Some (pre-crisis/current) destinations wouldn’t be reachable, while some would be very close to the limit, or even closely not possible considering headwinds and reserve fuels.


The A321XLR is also expected to enter into service by 2023. The type has yet to complete its maiden flight though, making the timeline less clear compared to the Boeing 737-10 which has completed its first flights already and is struggling with the different problems at the moment. Assuming the XLR enters into service by 2023, the aircraft would suit Icelandair better. The A321XLR not only seats more passengers, coming closer to the B752 compared to the MAX-10 but also comes with better range characteristics. The A321XLR is projected to come with a range of up to 4,700nm (more than 8,300km) which would improve the number of destinations servable from Iceland.
Maybe the biggest problem of the A321neo, in general, is the backlog of orders. Due to the MAX being grounded for over a year as a result of 2 deadly crashes as a result of a faulty and rushed aircraft design on Boeing’s part, the NEO almost exclusively gained all orders for aircraft in that size category. Now, airlines have to expect long delivery times as a result.
Luckily for Icelandair, the backlog currently extends to 2025, so the A321neo/XLR would be ready in time by 2026.

What could Icelandair reach with the A321XLR?

A321XLR (outer circle) vs. B752 (inner circle)

As you can see, the A321XLR would be able to serve the same destinations as the B752 while consuming less fuel. However, it would open up further route opportunities and would enable Icelandair to reach some destinations WOW Air served before, whilst flying with lower trip costs and lower capacity, possibly making the routes profitable (Delhi, Dubai, etc.).


With the A321 XLR it could also go to Mumbai


Despite less commonality with the rest of Icelandair’s fleet… I think that the A321XLR is the obvious choice due to its range cause the MAX 10 would barely be able to fly to half of Icelandair’s US routes and the XLR would allow them to maybe expand to some Middle eastern or African routes which could be exciting. Additionally, if anything were to ever happen with the MAX again then having an all MAX fleet will have catastrophic consequences but who knows… will be interesting to see which they choose in the next few years


Not sure if that would work out due to reserve fuel, but it might just be possible!

An A321neo XLR is honestly what I pray they fly, but I’d think that due to fleet commonality, they’d just go with the MAX 10 and swap all there routes that it won’t be able to reach (such as MCO, SEA, DEN) with their 763’s.

Their livery fits the A321neo XLR sooooo well too.


Long live the 757 but if it’s gotta happen, I hope they pick the MAX

If it ain’t Boeing I ain’t going. A stupid Airbus had me on the ground for like eight additional hours last time I flew 😂

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I think it’s likely that Icelandair would go with the A321variant as it’s range is much more comfortable in terms of their West Coast destinations and allows them to open up more routes further afield.

They flew the 737 MAX 8 to Portland which is longer than KEF-MCO/DEN/SEA so I think they can reach all of their current U.S. destinations with the MAX. It’s not a big decrease in seat capacity but cargo might take a payload hit.

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That too, I forgot they swapped majority of their US service with Max 8’s from 752’s.

Just wondering, do you know the exact reason and airline lol, I don’t think you were delayed because of the fact of it being an airbus as thousands of airbus flights leave as scheduled on-time everyday.

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  1. It was American BUT HOLD ON BEFORE YOU ROAST ME, 😂

  2. it was a mechanical issue with two airbuses in a row. Eventually we used an Embraer and had zero issues.

That’s thought very naively.

Considering the amount of Airbusses out there and their popularity it was probably just a coincidence rather than Airbus’ fault.

And if you were gonna argue this way you could also say that it’s just a mechanical issue and not a crash like with some other manufacturer 👀

All in all there’s a reason for the popularity of the A320 family and especially the A321neo. If you are gonna make an argument against the A321neo, at least be objective and use some data to make your point for example.

Probably should point out the caveat with this statement, which is the additional 200-250nm range the aircraft can get when equipped with an Auxillary fuel tank. So truly, its maximum range in this case is around 3,000-3,350nm.

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I could vibe with an Icelandair A350-900/787-8 Dreamliner once the 757’s retire.

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Neither aircraft can really replace a 752, without taking a hit in payload or passengers.

321XLR is the closest choice

MAX10 for fleet commonality… we’ll see.

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it was mostly a joke 🙄

oh I thought the 737MAX was their choice of replacement for the 757

Iceland air already operates all Boeing jets, I couldn’t see them making the switch to airbus

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Didn’t see that. I’ll add 3,300nm like Boeing says on their webpage!

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I imagine this was only possible due to CoVid-19 though. With higher loads + the lower range of the -10 compared to the -8 shouldn’t make it possible according to gcmap (I know, very scientific) at least