Drone Sightings in England Force Flight Cancellations in Iceland

A handful of flights departing from Iceland were canceled or delayed following the full airport shut down at Gatwick in England, RÚV reports. The shutdown is the result of drone sightings around the Gatwick airfield, in what one airport tweet referred to as “a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.”

Gatwick was first closed just after 9:00 PM on Wednesday night after two drones were sighted flying over the airfield. The airport reopened just after 3:00 AM on Friday morning, only to close again about 40 minutes later after further drone sightings.

It’s estimated that the shutdown affected 110,000 passengers scheduled to depart from Gatwick on Thursday, as well as a significant number of passengers on flights that were scheduled to arrive from other airports, such as Iceland’s Keflavík airport. Icelandair, for instance, had to cancel a flight that was scheduled to depart on Thursday at 7:45 AM and delayed a later flight that was meant to depart for Gatwick at 3:25 PM. WOW Air and Easy Jet also had to cancel or delay flights.

As of 5:00 PM on Thursday, Gatwick remained closed.

New Bus Shelters With Real-Time Updates Coming to Reykjavík

Reykjavík bus stop

The City of Reykjavík is set to receive new bus shelters this spring which will provide riders with real-time information on when the next bus will arrive, RÚV reports. The total number of shelters in the city will increase from 140 to 210, 50 of which will feature real-time updates on approaching buses.

The city has contracted Icelandic company Dengsi to provide and maintain the shelters. Vésteinn Gauti Hauksson, Dengsi’s CEO, says the design of the new shelters has been completed, and their manufacture will begin soon in China. The company expects the first shelters to arrive in Iceland in March. Vésteinn adds that all efforts are being made to ensure installation of the new shelters will not interrupt bus service. Older shelters will remain in place until the installation of new shelters is complete.

The City of Reykjavík is now discussing where to place the 50 bus shelters which will be equipped to provide real-time updates on buses.

Complications Arise in Parliament’s Investigation of Klaustur Scandal

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon

The Parliamentary Speakers’ Committee has released a statement declaring its members are disqualified from handling the Klaustur scandal, RÚV reports. The declaration could affect Parliament’s investigation of the matter, which the Speaker’s Committee had referred to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee.

The Speakers’ Committee had convened the Ethics Committee to investigate the now-infamous case, which concerns the behaviour of six MPs who were recorded uttering sexist, ableist, and homophobic remarks about their colleagues at a Reykjavík bar. As a result of the Speakers’ declaration that their committee members are unfit to handle the matter, however, the Parliamentary Ethics Committee cannot proceed with their investigation.

For the time being, the Office of Parliament is continuing to collect data on the case for the Parliamentary Ethics Committee. Secretary General of Parliament Helgi Bernódusson says the statement does not necessarily mean the investigation will be delayed.

Unions Shift Alliances Ahead of Wage Negotiations

Efling Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir

Two major labour unions have decided to spilt from their union federation in Iceland’s upcoming wage negotiation, RÚV reports. The Federation of General and Special Workers (SGS) will no longer be negotiating on behalf of Efling and Verkalýðsfélag Akraness in upcoming wage talks after the two unions decided to pull out of their agreement with the federation.

Straight to mediation

Efling and Verkalýðsfélag Akraness are members of SGS, a union federation built up of 19 trade unions. The two unions had previously given SGS authority to negotiate on their members’ behalf in upcoming wage negotiations. Efling’s negotiation committee decided last night to revoke its agreement with SGS after the federation refused to refer wage negotiations to the State Conciliation and Mediation Officer immediately. Verkalýðshfélag Akraness followed suit shortly afterward.

More radical stance

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, chairperson of Efling, stated the union takes a more radical stance toward the upcoming wage negotiations than SGS’s negotiation leaders. Efling intends to refer the negotiations immediately to the State Conciliation and Mediation Officer rather than attempt direct negotiations with employers first.

Closer collaboration in the upcoming negotiations between Efling, Verkalýðsfélag Akraness, and VR Union, which is not a member of SGS, appears likely. Both Sólveig Anna and VR Union’s chairman Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson have stated they welcome closer collaboration between their organisations. Verkalýðsfélag Akraness’ chairman Vilhjálmur Birgisson has stated that if VR and Efling refer the negotiations directly to mediation, his union would likely do so as well.