Nine Hundred Quakes in Ongoing Earthquake Swarm

An earthquake swarm has been ongoing around Öxarfjörður in northeast Iceland since Saturday. According to Einar Hjörleifsson, a natural disaster expert with the Icelandic Met Office, there have been a total of 900 quakes since the swarm began on Saturday. The swarm is on-going and currently shows no signs of subsiding.

The majority of the quakes have taken place about six kilometres south of the village of Kópasker. Eight quakes have been measured above 3.0 on the Seismic Magnitude scale, the most powerful of which took place at 8:30 pm on Wednesday night and measured 4.2. Thirty seconds later, a quake measuring 3.3 occurred; quakes of 3.3 and 3.2 followed at 9:47 pm and 9:49 pm. Smaller shocks were detected after these larger quakes.

While residents of Kópasker have felt the quakes extremely well, they haven’t been discernible elsewhere, which Einar Hjörleifsson, the Icelandic Met Office’s natural disaster expert, says is normal given the quakes’ size and location. The quakes are taking place along the Tjörnes Fracture Zone, which stretches from all the way up at Grímsey island off of the north coast of Iceland to Landey island just off the coast of Stykkishólmur in Snæfellsnes, West Iceland.

Einar says that the current swarm hasn’t gathered momentum, but it also hasn’t shown signs of losing any, either. The fracture zone has built up a lot of tension and one of two situations is most likely. Either the swarm will slowly fade out, or the built-up tension could cause a larger earthquake, up to 6.0 on the Seismic Magnitude scale. Inhabitants in towns on the north coast of Iceland are advised to make sure all furniture is secure in the case of a larger earthquake and to review the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management’s contingency plans.

Kópasker has been the site of numerous powerful earthquakes and earthquake swarms. On January 14, 1976, quakes measuring 5.5 to 6  damaged most of the homes in the village and necessitated the evacuation of women, children, and the elderly. Similar earthquake swarms also occurred in the area in May 1997, April 2007, April 2009, and October 2014.

New Business Accelerator Focuses on Creating Value from Waste

A new business accelerator program pushing competitors to successfully design a new product or service in a matter of weeks has already yielded a number of innovative ideas, such as cosmetics made from carrots and beets which would otherwise be thrown out as waste. RÚV reports that the program, called Til sjávar og sveita (‘At sea and in the country’), is the first accelerator in Iceland that is especially geared toward the agriculture and fishery sectors.

The Til sjávar og sveita accelerator is operated by Icelandic Startups in collaboration with the Iceland Ocean Cluster and the support of IKEA, the Iceland’s Culinary Treasures project, the seafood company HB Grandi, and the Agricultural Cluster. Seventy applications were received for this year’s program; ten were selected. These participants spend seven weeks developing their ideas under the guidance of experienced entrepreneurs.

Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir, a project manager at Iceland Startups, says that one of the primary foci of the accelerator is utilizing materials that would otherwise be wasted, to create value from something that currently, is worth nothing. The competition, she says is intended to be a springboard for entrepreneurs and a venue for them to get assistance in building the next generation of companies within Iceland’s base industries.

Melkorka explained that so-called ‘mentor meetings’ form the backbone of the accelerator. Experts from across the industry spectrum take part in 30 meetings with the participating teams with the goal of accelerating the process from concept to complete product or service.

Three of the current teams are technology related and are working to develop technological solutions in the agricultural and fishing industries. The remaining seven are product-related, with ideas stemming from both industries. Among the various ideas currently being developed are a high-speed technology that prepares DNA diagnostic tests, a beer brewed from potato skins, digital fishing books, and drinkable carbonated sea water.

Icelandair Offers Rescue Fares for Stranded WOW air Passengers

WOW - Icelandair - Keflavík Airport

Icelandair is now working on a plan to assist WOW air passengers to return to their homes. The work is expected to be completed in the next couple of hours.

It is believed that anywhere between 2700 and 4000 passengers are stranded in total. The government’s contingency plan was put into action last night. Part of it involves contacting airlines Icelandair and EasyJet.

The International Air Transport Association has a contingency plan to assist travellers when aircraft carriers are in trouble. Other aircraft carriers can offer passengers so-called rescue fares to assist travellers to reach their destinations. Those passengers who booked their flights with credit cards should in most cases get their money back.

Hungarian airline Wizz Air has also announced it will assist passengers with the rescue fares.

Icelandair stock has risen rapidly today in the Icelandic stock exchange, to the tune of almost 22%.


Below is Icelandair’s statement:

Announcement regarding WOW air

Icelandair is aware of the situation following the news of the bankruptcy of WOW air. We are currently working on a plan in order to assist stranded passengers in need of assistance to return home. It is expected to be ready in the next couple of hours.

Authorities Respond to WOW air Situation

WOW air

The Icelandic government has announced that a contingency plan has been put into action following the news that WOW air has ceased all operations. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister of Transport, confirmed this earlier this morning. Part of the contingency plan, which was put into action last night, involved contacting Icelandair and EasyJet to ensure so-called rescue fares. “First and foremost I would like the chance to assess the matter, I’ll allow an interview later day. We have been preparing for this conclusion for a very long time,” Sigurður stated in an interview with Vísir.is.

The government released an official statement just now, stating that is disappointed that WOW air’s attempts to secure finances were unsuccessful. The government’s response team will try to ensure that passengers can travel home. The country’s economic standing is strong and the economy is in a good position to take on this challenge. The economic repercussions will mostly be short term and they call for a reassessment of plans, but the long term effects will be decided by market developments.

Jobs lost

It is believed that around 1100 WOW air employees lost their job today after WOW air stated it has ceased operation. It is unclear at this point in time how many other jobs will be lost, but it is clear that WOW air’s operations supported numerous other jobs in and around the Keflavík airport. The Directorate of Labour has formed an emergency response team to assist WOW air employees. The directorate has not yet received information from WOW air regarding a group resignation.

Icelandic Transport Authority

Þórólfur Árnason, head of the Icelandic Transport Authority, has stated that flight security was never in danger due to WOW air’s position and that the airline did well considering the position it was in. WOW air turned in its air operator’s certificate itself today, and Þórólfur believes that WOW air showed responsibility by doing so.

According to Þórólfur, just under a thousand people had booked flights with the six aircraft which were due to leave North America this morning. A similar amount of travellers had booked flights with WOW air with the seven aircraft which were due to leave Iceland today. Not all passengers are in the same position, however.

The International Air Transport Association has a contingency plan to assist travellers when aircraft carriers are in trouble. Other aircraft carriers can offer passengers so-called rescue fares to assist. Those passengers who booked their flights with credit cards should in most cases get their money back.

Economic repercussions

It is unclear at this point in time what effect the WOW air situation will have on the Icelandic economy and the tourism industry. Icelandic bank Arion Bank released a statement earlier today that the WOW air situation would not affect the bank’s earnings. Arion will be hit by one-time cost due to the position, and it is unclear at this point in time what that will amount to. The long-term financial goals of the bank will be unaffected.

WOW air Officially Ceases Operation

WOW air

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553772944224{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]WOW air has officially ceased operation and all WOW air flights have been cancelled. The low budget airline operated 11 aircraft out of Reykjavík.

Last Tuesday, WOW air bond owners accepted to convert their claims to company stock. Creditors had therefore essentially taken over the company, and Skúli Mogensen, founder and CEO, was no longer the sole owner of the company.

Yesterday, it was announced that the company was looking for potential investors to invest ISK 5 billion ($40.9m/€36.4m) so that WOW air could continue operating. It is now clear that the funding was not secured in time.

All WOW air aircraft have been grounded. The last WOW air flight to land was WW121, which landed in Detroit earlier today, arriving from Reykjavík.

Many passengers have been left stranded, both in WOW air destinations in North America as well as in Canada.

WOW air had found itself in financial troubles in recent times. Alarm bells rang as WOW air announced a loss of ISK 4.8 billion ($42.7m/€36.6m) in the 12-month period between July 2017 and July 2018.

The airline was founded in 2011 and grew quickly in size and scope. In their inaugural year, 110,000 passengers flew with WOW air, with that number increasing to 415,000 in 2013. That number had quadrupled in 2016, as WOW transported 1,669,000 passengers – but the biggest jump had yet to appear. Between 2016 and 2017, WOW air increased its passenger number by 69% to 2,800,000 passengers. It was inevitable that such rapid growth would have some repercussions.

Iceland Review magazine covered the financial status of the two Icelandic airlines WOW air and Icelandair in November 2018. Previously, Icelandic owned low budget airline Primera Air had declared bankruptcy.

In Focus: Up in the air. WOW air and Icelandair’s status: – https://www.icelandreview.com/news/air/

More to follow.

 


Below is the official statement on WOW air’s website in whole:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553767896923{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

End of Operation of WOW AIR

Information for WOW AIR passengers

WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.

How will I reach my destination?

Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines.

Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available.

What are my rights?

Passengers whose ticket was paid with a credit card are advised to contact their credit card company to check whether a refund of the ticket cost will be issued.

Passengers who bought their ticket from a European travel agent (within the European Economic Area) as a part of a package tour (a package which includes flights and accommodation or other services) are protected by the Package Travel Directive. Those passengers are advised to contact their travel agent to arrange an alternative flight.

Passengers who may have bought travel protection, or those passengers whose credit card terms may include such protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to delays or travel disruption. However, such compensation is often limited.

Passengers may also be entitled to compensation from WOW AIR, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator.

Where can I get up-to-date information?

This announcement will be published and continuously updated on the following websites:
– Icelandic Transport Authority: www.samgongustofa.is / www.icetra.is
– Keflavik Airport: www.isavia.is/en
– WOW AIR: www.wowair.com
– Posted at all relevant airports
General information about passenger rights can be found atwww.icetra.is

 


Below is a statement sent to all WOW air staff from Skúli Mogensen, CEO and founder, earlier this morning:

Dear Friends

I never ever thought it would come to this but we are forced to cease operations and return our Aircraft Operating Certificate. This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done but the reality is that we have run out of time and have unfortunately not been able to secure the funding of the company.

You have all worked so hard for so long and I am incredibly proud of all our achievements over the years and not least how the entire team has stood together this winter through the restructuring and getting us back into the Low Cost Airline mode that served us so well during our first years. We got the original WOW spirit back! I will never be able to forgive myself for not taking action sooner since it is evident that WOW was an amazing airline and we where on the right track to do great things again. I wish we had more time and could do more since all of you deserve so much better and I am deeply sorry to put you in this position. No matter what will be said I will always be grateful for working with such a fantastic team and I sincerely hope we can remember our achievements as we pioneered the Low Cost Long Haul Airline Industry and built an amazing brand in record time. This in itself is no small achievement that you should all be proud of.

I want to thank our passengers who stood by us from day one, our partners around the world and not least all relevant authorities. We all tried our best to the very end. Most of all I want to thank you my dear friends for the most amazing journey of my life time. We will always be WOW and I will never forget you. I hope and trust you will never forget the WOW spirit and will carry it with you to your next adventure. Thank you

Með kveðju / Best Regards[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Two-Day Hotel Worker and Bus Driver Strikes Called Off

trade union iceland

The planned strike of hotel workers and bus drivers who are members of the Efling and VR unions that was planned to begin at midnight on March 28 and end at 11:59 PM on March 29 has been called off, RÚV reports. While multiple short-term strikes are still planned to go forward in the next week, the cancellation of this two-day action does signal that some progress has finally been made in negotiations between six labour unions, including Efling and VR, and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), Iceland’s employer federation.

The decision to call off the strikes was made at a five-hour negotiation meeting between SA and the unions that was held on Wednesday afternoon, mere hours before the strike was supposed to go into effect. It was the sixteenth such negotiation meeting and had, in fact, been postponed for the last two days because union chairs said that uncertainty with WOW air’s situation would impact negotiations. SA had requested that the forthcoming strike action be postponed in light of the ongoing WOW air negotiations, but the unions rejected this request.

The strike was cancelled “…in light of a new basis for talks, which has now been presented on behalf of the employers’ association, SA,” wrote Efling in a statement on its website. The exact details of the “new basis” was not specified, but Efling congratulated its members on “the great work that has been put into the planning and execution of the strikes so far, which have now resulted in a limited but significant success.”

“Whether it succeeds or not, we’re going to try to make it work in the next days and over the weekend,” remarked Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, the chair of VR.

Both Ragnar Þór and Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir noted that this cancellation does not signal the end of negotiations by any means—it’s simply a step in the right direction. “I must express my feeling that we wouldn’t have made it here except for the fact that the strike weapon is a sharp one and it stings,” said Sólveig Anna.

The next set of 24-hour strikes is scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week. The city buses run by Kynnisferðir will also start their rush-hour strikes on Monday.