American Airlines plans to defend its turf at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) hub against Icelandic carriers Icelandair and Wow.

From June 7 to Oct. 26, American will operate seasonal service between DFW and Reykjavik. It will be American's first Iceland service and the decision to fly the route follows Dallas-Reykjavik service announcements by both Icelandair and budget carrier Wow in September. Wow will begin flying the route on May 24, six days before the Icelandair service starts.

In an email Tuesday, American spokeswoman LaKesha Brown steered clear of a question about whether American's decision to serve Iceland should be viewed as a response to the two Icelandic airlines.

"American is always looking at our network to ensure we're taking customers to the places they most want to go, and Reykjavik is no exception," she said. "Reykjavik is Iceland's capital city and has become a very popular leisure destination for summer travel, and DFW provides our customers excellent connecting opportunities with extensive connections available through our largest hub."

Indeed, fueled by the rise of Wow and by fare wars between Wow and Icelandair, Reykjavik has become increasingly popular with U.S. tourists. In the first half of this year, the number of roundtrip tickets purchased in the agent channel for travel between Iceland and the U.S increased 42% year-over-year, according to ARC.

Still, American's decision to make Dallas-Reykjavik its first Iceland route is almost certainly intended as a signal to Icelandair and Wow, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner of the newsletter Airline Weekly.

"They are clearly drawing a line in the sand. I don't think this is because they looked at their forecast and suddenly decided that the Dallas metroplex needs three airlines competing to Reykjavik where it previously needed none," Kaplan said.

American doesn't' offer the connecting route network from Reykjavik that Icelandair and Wow do, though it obviously has an enormous advantage over those carriers for travel to and from DFW.

Kaplan said that the commercial challenge presented to American by Icelandair and Wow is largely in connecting European service. For example, both Icelandic carriers fly to Stockholm, a city a Dallas traveler could also reach by flying American to London Heathrow and then connecting onto American's joint venture partner British Airways.

With Wow and Icelandair already engaged in fare wars in several U.S. markets, the addition of American will almost certainly put even more downward pressure on fares.

"We plan to offer attractive fares that compete with comparable product offerings," American's Brown said. 

American's decision to fly Dallas-Reykjavik echoes United's decision in September to begin seasonal Newark-Reykjavik service in May. That route will be United's first offering to Iceland. United will be defending its hub against Wow and Icelandair. 

A difference, however, is that United was able to analyze the results of the carriers' Newark-Iceland routes before deciding to fly the market. Icelandair began Newark flights in the fall of 2013 and Wow Air launched Newark service a year ago. 

American said it will fly Dallas-Reykjavic with a Boeing 757 single-aisle aircraft that features lie-flat business-class seats. Neither Wow nor Icelandair offer a lie-flat product.
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Correction: United also decided to take on Wow and Icelandair, as the airline will launch seasonal Newark-Reykjavik service in May.

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