Government and Unions Respond to WOW air Bankruptcy

WOW air airplane

The Icelandic government will allocate an additional ISK 80 million ($652,000/€580,000) to the Directorate of Labour in order to help the institution respond to the mass layoffs that have resulted from WOW air’s bankruptcy. Meanwhile, VR Union is working to ensure its members who have been laid off by WOW will get unemployment benefits immediately, a process that usually takes months.

WOW air’s bankruptcy last Thursday has already led to some 1,500 layoffs so far, the largest mass layoff in Icelandic history. The vast majority of those left unemployed, or around 1,100, were employees of WOW. Another 315 were laid off by Airport Associates, which provides air terminal service at Keflavík Airport. A large construction company in the Keflavík area has let go of 40 employees, while tour bus company Reykjavík Excursions has laid off 59. Keflavík airport’s Duty Free stores have also laid off six employees, citing that around 30% of passenger traffic at the airport was due to WOW air’s flights.

Directorate of Labour gets a boost

The Directorate of Labour mobilised a response team immediately following WOW air’s bankruptcy. “Subsequently, we have been working on measures under the auspices of strengthening the Directorate of Labour, and it was agreed […] that 80 million would be supplied from the reserve fund to support the Directorate of Labour,” stated Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason.

The Minister added that the money would be distributed to the directorate’s service centres in Reykjavík and Reykjanesbær, adding that the government would keep an eye on the employment insurance fund, though it was too early to say how much additional funding it may need in light of the layoffs.

VR Union lends to unemployed members

Some 250 workers who lost their jobs as a results of WOW air’s bankruptcy are members of VR Union. The union’s chairperson Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson says VR decided yesterday to lend its members the equivalent of their monthly wages for April in order to bridge the gap until employment insurance kicks in. The loans, Ragnar Þór explained, will be “paid back” to VR from their own employment insurance fund once the pending paperwork comes through. VR also held a meeting yesterday for former WOW employees to inform them on how to fill out the necessary paperwork for claiming unemployment benefits.

WOW Flight Attendants Turn Back to Nursing

Flight attendants WOW air Icelandair

Vísir reports that many trained nurses who were laid off this week by WOW air have already inquired about work at hospitals. Anna Sigrún Baldursdóttir, assistant to the National University Hospital’s director, confirmed the fact with Vísir reporters. She says the hospital would be overjoyed to welcome back any nurses who are looking for a job. “There is no need for any nurse to be unemployed,” Anna Sigrún asserted.

Iceland Review magazine reported last fall on nurses taking off from hospitals in search of greener pastures with airline companies WOW and Icelandair. The bankruptcy of WOW has caused some of them to turn back to the profession they trained for – and hospital administrators couldn’t be happier.

Iceland Review Magazine: The Flight of the Nurses

Iceland has a shortage of about 570 nurses, according to a 2017 report by the Icelandic National Audit Office. In 2016, 9% of registered nurses were living abroad and 10% were believed to be working outside the field. As far back as 2014, up to a fifth of nursing students planned on becoming flight attendants after graduation. The profession has long reported high burnout rates and dissatisfaction with working conditions and wages.

Anna Sigrún says the National University Hospital has gotten in touch with WOW’s human resources team as well as the Directorate of Labour to remind them any trained nurses laid off by WOW can make a soft landing in healthcare.

How long does it take to drive around Iceland?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1553855989050{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Q: How long does it take to drive around Iceland?

A: Iceland’s main highway is a circular road going all around the island, known as the Ring Road or Route 1. The Ring Road covers 1,332km (828mi) and goes through all kinds of landscapes. It’s mostly a two-lane, paved road, but there are single-lane bridges along the way, and in East Iceland, short sections are still only gravel.

The speed limit in Iceland is 90km/h (56mi/h) on paved rural roads, 80km/h (50mi/h) on unpaved rural roads, and 50km/h (31mi/h) in urban areas. If you were to drive all around Iceland in one go, it would take you about 20 hours – in perfect conditions. You probably don’t want to drive around Iceland without breaks, though, and in winter, this is definitely not a realistic estimate. What’s more useful to know is how much time you would need to comfortably see most of the natural attractions Iceland is famous for.

In seven days, it’s possible to drive the complete Ring Road and see most of Iceland’s famous sights, such as geothermal areas, waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers, and fjords. You would spend a lot of time in the car, however, so 8-12 days is better if you like making many stops to go sightseeing and hiking. Two weeks is recommended if you would really like to get out into nature and go on adventure tours, like a whale watching tour or river rafting. There’s a lot to see and do in Iceland, and taking more time gives you more freedom for stops along the way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]