Icelandair will lay off 24 pilots and will not be hiring 21 new pilots, because of the ongoing worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

The Keflavik-based carrier has a total commitment for 16 MAXs, scheduled for delivery through 2021. “We have not made any changes to our order,” an Icelandair spokeswoman told ATW.

She added that Icelandair had three Boeing 737 MAXs in operation when the type was taken out of service and was expecting to grow that fleet to nine this year.

“Unfortunately, we have had to end the employment of 24 pilots that joined Icelandair last autumn and had already started working as pilots on the Boeing 737 MAX before its suspension. In addition, a decision was made to cancel the plans of hiring 21 new pilots that have been in training on the MAX. This decision was made as it is expected that the suspension of the 737 MAX aircraft will last longer than anticipated and we have made changes to our flight schedule until Sept. 15 to reflect that,” the Icelandair spokeswoman said.

She added that Icelandair is hoping to rehire the pilots once it has better clarity on how the MAX situation will develop.

As a result of the grounding, Icelandair has leased four substitute aircraft, three Boeing 767-300ERs and one Boeing 757-200.

The airline has also reduced its planned capacity growth by 5% over the period July 15 to Sept. 15, although available seats will still be 10% up year-on-year.

“Icelandair’s emphasis will continue to remain on increasing the number of passengers to and from Iceland and, as of today, the number of bookings by passengers traveling to Iceland during the period June-August has increased by over 30% compared to the same period last year,” the airline said.

In a May 23 statement, Icelandair said the financial impact of the MAX grounding remains uncertain. “The amount of compensation from the aircraft manufacturer is still under review,” Icelandair said.

Victoria Moores