PLAY’s largest shareholder becomes new CEO as Birgir Jónsson departs airline 

PLAY CEO Birgir Jonsson

The CEO of Icelandic carrier PLAY will leave the company after joining the low-cost airline as the top executive in 2021.   

PLAY announced on March 17, 2024, that Birgir Jónsson had signed an employment termination agreement and that one of PLAY’s largest shareholders, Einar Örn Ólafsson, would take over as CEO.

Ólafsson has been chairman of the board since April 2021 and has now rescinded his candidacy as a board member for the upcoming election at the PLAY’s Annual General Meeting on March 21, 2024. 

“I am really looking forward to this new role. After a great ramp-up phase these past few years under Birgir’s strong leadership, the Company is now at a turning point. As the Company’s largest shareholder, I’d like to see my investment through. I am very familiar with PLAY’s operations and employees and can see ample opportunities and exciting projects in the operation going forward,” Ólafsson said.  

He added: “I’m grateful to PLAY’s Board of Directors for their trust in me and I’d like to use the opportunity to thank Birgir for his contribution to PLAY and for our pleasant and productive collaboration during these past few years.” 

Jónsson described his time at PLAY as a “real adventure” and praised the “powerful Icelandic low-cost airline” after it was built in a “relatively short time”.

“A competitive landscape in the aviation industry will result in lower fares, a diverse selection of destinations and valuable foreign tourists, which is especially important for an island like us. This competition is in the interest of all Icelanders. I therefore leave my position with immense pride,” Jónsson said. 

He added: “PLAY has now left its infancy and grown up to be a mature airline. I’ve had a good and close working relationship with Einar and leave the Company in his capable hands. I look forward to seeing PLAY flourish under his leadership. I’d like to thank our passengers and partners for this particularly enjoyable period.” 

Jónsson will continue to work for PLAY until April 2, 2024, and will remain as an advisor for the airline for the next few months. 

The Icelandic carrier was founded in 2019 by Arnar Már Magnússon and Sveinn Ingi Steinþórsson as WAB air before changing its name to PLAY later that year.

As of January 2024, PLAY connects some 40 destinations across Europe with five airports in the US and Canada. 

PLAY has 10 aircraft in its fleet through lease agreements, comprising of six A320neo and four A321neo. 

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