The Loftleidir Icelandic adventure


1952 was an eventful year in the story of Loftleidir Icelandic. Fierce competition between the Icelandic airline companies led to the government deciding to divide domestic fights between them in 1952. The Loftleidir board was not satisfied with this and withdrew all domestic services. At the same time, one of the company’s Skymaster aircraft was badly damaged when it went off the runway in Italy, and the board decided to end flying operations and switch to ships.

Disagreement about the issue led to upheaval at a board meeting on 15 October 1953. A new board was appointed that subsequently guided the company into a very fruitful period, especially after the formation of a partnership with the Norwegian airline Braathen’s SAFE. Loftleidir Icelandic applied itself to the North Atlantic routes and low fares, and just a few years later the company was a major force in passenger transport between Europe and America.

The “revolutionary board” included Kristján Gudlaugsson, Chairman, Alfred Elíasson, who later became Managing Director, Sigurdur Helgason, Ólafur Bjarnason and Kristinn Olsen. There was little change to the board until the two airlines merged in 1973.