Air Iceland Connect to Expand Operations in Greenland

Air Iceland Connect (AIC) plans on expanding its flight network in Greenland once new airports are opened in the country, RÚV reports. Representatives of AIC expect significant growth within the Greenlandic tourism sector with the advent of the new and improved airports, which are expected to be operational in four to five years.

In an interview with the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq, Árni Gunnarsson, CEO of Air Iceland Connect, stated that Greenland was a key market for Air Iceland Connect. Árni did not provide further details regarding the company’s expansions of flight routes: such plans will not be finalised until 2022. “However, we do intend to expand our flight routes in Greenland once the new airports are operational.”

According to Árni, the airports will make travelling to Greenland easier, which will, in turn, serve to bolster tourism in the country. Asked whether AIC plans on offering domestic flights in Greenland, Árni was ambiguous: “We haven’t looked into it. It’s not part of our current plan. But as far as what could happen in four or five years’ time, I’m not willing to predict.”

Male Residents of Iceland Outnumber Females by 10,000

Iceland’s population grew by 27 inhabitants per day on average in July, August, and September, according to a new report by Statistics Iceland.

At the end of the third quarter, Icelandic residents totalled 362,860 – an increase of 2,470 in just three months. The increase is attributable to a greater number of births than deaths (1,250 children were born whereas 540 individuals passed away in the third quarter) and to a greater number of individuals immigrating to Iceland as opposed to emigrating. Icelandic citizens who moved abroad outnumbered Icelandic citizens returning to Iceland by 220; however, foreign citizens moving to Iceland outnumbered those moving away by 1,770.

The report also indicates that male residents of Iceland outnumber females by approximately 10,000 – 186,220 compared to 176,640. The gap between the genders has widened recently; three months ago, male residents outnumbered females by only 9,000. According to Þorbjörg Magnúsdóttir of Statistics Iceland, the gap may be largely explained by the fact that a greater number of male foreign citizens are working in Iceland as opposed to women.

Denmark was the most popular destination among emigrating Icelanders (500 Icelanders moved to Denmark during the third quarter). Of the 1,150 Icelandic citizens who moved abroad, 880 relocated to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. At the same time, Poland was the most popular destination among emigrating foreign citizens (a total of 370 out of 1,280).

13.4% of Icelandic inhabitants are foreign citizens or 48,640 in total.

Separation of Church and State Inevitable

The eventual separation of church and state is inevitable, writes Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir in an op-ed in Morgunblaðið this morning. The Church of Iceland is fully capable of executing its duties independent of the state.

Iceland’s 1874 constitution guarantees religious freedom, but also specifies that the “Evangelical Lutheran Church is a national church and as such it is protected and supported by the State.” This provision was retained in the constitution of the Republic of Iceland of 1944.

According to Áslaug, the demand for equality among religious organisations has become increasingly salient. “An autonomous church independent of the government better accords with the ideals of freedom of religion and opinion, but the Church of Iceland (The Evangelical Lutheran Church) has enjoyed special status within Icelandic governance,” she writes. According to Áslaug, more and more people are now convinced that the financing of religious organisations should not fall within the government’s purview. “Many will continue to follow the church,” she writes, “even if a complete separation of church and state becomes a reality.”

“A new agreement between the government and the Church of Iceland stipulates that the latter will no longer function as another state institution. Rather, the church will come to resemble an independent religious organisation, responsible for its own operations and finances. These changes are a significant improvement. Heading in the direction of full separation of church and state is inevitable. Until then – and despite this agreement – the Church of Iceland will, in accordance with the constitution, continue to enjoy the support and guardianship of the Icelandic government.”

The above-mentioned agreement, signed in September, specifies the increased financial independence of the Church of Iceland. From January 1st onward, the Church of Iceland will process its own wages and manage its own books. Furthermore, a special law on Church-managed funds will be revoked.

According to Áslaug, the teachings of the Church continue to be significant and meaningful to the everyday lives of Icelandic citizens. If citizens continue to trust the church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church will continue to be Iceland’s national church, irrespective of its legal or governmental status.

Sizable Sea-Cliff Chunk Collapses into Ocean

This weekend, a sizable chunk of the Ketubjörg sea cliffs collapsed into the ocean, MBL reports. The Ketubjörg cliffs are situated on the Skagi peninsula in North Iceland (just north of Sauðárkrókur). “I could hardly believe my eyes,” Ingólfur Sveinsson, resident of the Skagi peninsula, stated in a conversation with Morgunblað yesterday.

In 2015, following an ice clog in a nearby stream, rerouted water subsequently slipped through the cliff’s porous tuff. Since then, a chunk of the cliffs by Innri Bjargavík had slowly broken away and had begun standing on its own (see above photograph). The cleft between the cliff and the chunk widened and had grown to approximately three metres (the chunk is estimated to have been approximately 65 metres tall). After the collapse, a 20-metre high heap of rock and earth can be seen beneath the cliffs.

“I make regular trips to Skagi from Sauðárkrókur to monitor the Ketubjörg cliffs,” Ingólfur stated. The exact time of the collapse is unknown; although the cliff was still standing Friday afternoon, seismometres in Hraun in Skagi – nine kilometres from Ketubjörg – detected disturbances around noon on Saturday. “It’s quite unbelievable,” Elvar Már Jóhannsson, an amateur photographer from Sauðárkrókur said, who visited Ketubjörg yesterday.

For the sake of public safety, local police will continue to monitor the situation in Ketubjörg. According to Ingólfur Sveinsson, the cliffs are still a hazard to the public given that there are still visible cracks in the cliffs.