COLUMBIA, Md., June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- During the dog days of summer, when traffic across the North Atlantic is at its peak and airlines battle for business, recently reviewed stories of Icelandair's early years cause one to pause. The airline once known as the "hippie airline," reflecting the age of its 1970s-era passengers, is now one of the most efficiently operated airlines in the industry because of its centrally located "hub" in Iceland, with "spokes" on both sides of the Atlantic. Evening flights from Icelandair's North American gateways in Halifax, Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Baltimore/Washington and Orlando arrive in Iceland around 6am local time next morning and connect to the most popular destinations in Scandinavia, the UK and Continental Europe, usually within 90 minutes of arrival. Same thing on the return: flights depart Europe early afternoon, arrive Iceland mid-afternoon and connect within 90 minutes to North America ... where it happens all over again. But it wasn't always so. In 1952, the US Civil Aeronautics Board approved the airline's operation between New York and Europe via Iceland. Then known as Loftleidir Icelandic, the airline purchased a DC-4 Skymaster and flew the "Great Circle" route across the North Atlantic. The long-haul aircraft were low overhead, allowing the airline to charge lower fares on their transatlantic routes, thus gaining a reputation for value fares. The value remains, but the Boeing 757 fleet is new and the route network is definitely improved. Imagine telling today's passenger their round-trip itinerary to Sweden will be: New York-Gander-Reykjavik-Hamburg-Copenhagen- Gothenburg-Stavanger-Gander-New York!