Foreign Passengers Departing from Keflavík Down by 18.4%

Keflavík Airport

According to a press release published Wednesday by the Icelandic Tourist Board, approximately 163,000 foreign passengers departed from Keflavík Airport in October, roughly 36,000 fewer than last year (a decrease of 18.4%).

The press release also notes that American tourists account for the greatest decrease of departing passengers in October. 25,000 fewer American passengers departed from Keflavík Airport this October compared to October 2018 (a 42% decrease).

In the larger context, the October decline is not unusual. Every month of 2019 has followed a similar trend. There were 5.8% fewer departing passengers in January 2019, 6.9% in February, 1.7%, n March, 18.5% in April, 23.6% in May, 16.7% in June, 17% in July, 13.5% in August, and 20.7% in September.

Americans account for the greatest number of departing passengers, or approximately one fifth. British passengers were the second most numerous (12.6%).

Approximately 1.7 million foreign passengers have departed from Iceland via Keflavík Airport in 2019 – or 14.7% fewer passengers than last year.

CEO of Samherji Steps Aside Amid Bribery Scandal

In a statement released this morning, Samherji announced that CEO Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson will be stepping aside indefinitely pending an internal investigation into the company’s subsidiaries’ “alleged wrongdoing in Namibia.”

As reported this week, subsidiaries of Samherji – one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies – are alleged to have paid high-ranking officials in Namibia more than ISK one billion since 2012 to ensure access to horse-mackerel fishing quotas in the country. Following the allegations, Samherji announced that it would solicit the aid of the Norwegian-based law firm Wikborg Rein to investigate the alleged wrongdoing.

According to Samherji’s statement from this morning, Björgólfur Jóhannsson – former CEO of Icelandair Group – will take Þorsteinn’s place as acting CEO and will meet with employees and key stakeholders in the coming days.

“Samherji employs thousands of people globally. We take this serious step to ensure and demonstrate the complete integrity of the ongoing investigation. At Samherji we are committed to fair and honest business, and we will always strive to act in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, says Eirikur S. Jóhannsson, Chair of the Board of Directors of Samherji,” the statement reads.

The Namibian Minister of Fisheries, Bernhardt Esau, and Minister of Justice, Sacky Shangala, resigned yesterday.

Men’s Football Team Takes on Turkey in Clutch Match

Iceland football team

The Men’s National Football Team will compete against Turkey this afternoon in a crucial match for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Two rounds are left of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Turkey sits at the top of Group H with 19 points (level with France) and will advance to the UEFA European Championship if it manages a tie against Iceland. Iceland, on the other hand, is in third place with 15 points and must win the next two matches to advance (while also hoping that Turkey loses points against Andorra on Sunday).

In the event that Iceland loses against Turkey, the team may still qualify via play-offs next March. It remains unclear what teams will advance through to the play-off round. It will not be determined until after the qualifiers.

Iceland will play without team captain Aron Gunnarsson (Al-Arabi) and fellow midfielder Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Burnley), both of whom are injured. Turkey will be without forward Cenk Tosun (Everton) who is injured. Team captain, Emre Belözoğlu (Fenerbahçe), remains a doubt.

The match will begin at 17:00 and it will be played at the Türk Telekom Stadium in Istanbul (home stadium of Galtasaray S.K.). The match will be broadcast live on RÚV.

Iceland qualified for the UEFA European Championship for the first time in 2016. The team advanced through the group stages and secured a 2-1 victory against England in the round of 16. The lost 2-5 against France in the quarter-finals.

Crew of Stranded Fishing Boat Rescued in Súgandafjörður

sailor rescued by helicopter.

Four sailors were rescued when a 21-tonne fishing boat stranded yesterday evening, near the mountain Göltur, in Súgandafjörður in the West Fjords.

The Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) received a distress call from the boat at 22:00 yesterday evening and immediately dispatched a rescue helicopter. ICE-SAR rescue teams from the northern West Fjords were also mobilised.

According to a statement from the ICG, the stranded boat quickly became stuck between two rocks. Despite relatively calm weather, sizeable waves broke over the fishing boat. In light of unfavourable conditions, a rescue boat could not advance close enough for rescue; rescue teams came by land from northern Súgandafjörður.

The ICG‘s rescue helicopter, TF EIR, arrived on the scene at 23:42. The fishing boat’s four crew members were safe aboard the helicopter at midnight. They were then transported to Ísafjörður.

According to RÚV, the patrol ship Týr is expected to arrive at the scene of the incident early this morning. Conditions will be surveyed with an eye to salvaging the marooned boat.

The Coast Guard has released a video of the helicopter rescue.