easyJet to Fly Direct to Akureyri this Winter

One of Europe’s largest airlines, easyJet, will operate direct flights between Akureyri, North Iceland and London, from October 31 of this year, Visit North Iceland reports. The flights will operate twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, through March 2024. Locals of North Iceland have long been calling for more direct flight connections to mainland Europe, both for residents of Iceland and in support of tourism operators in the region, but although several airlines have promised to operate international flights to Akureyri Airport in the past, few have delivered.

EasyJet has already opened for bookings for the flights between Akureyri and Gatwick Airport, which Arnheiður Jóhannsdóttir, CEO of Visit North Iceland, says are “the result of years of preparatory work and collaboration.” Arnheiður adds that direct flights between the UK and Akureyri that were offered a few years ago proved successful and that this new route could lead to over 1,500 overnight stays per week in North Iceland during the winter season.

Akureyri Airport is completing an extension to the terminal that is expected to be fully completed in the spring of 2024. The development of the airport is intended to facilitate international travel to and from the region.

Several airlines have previously announced intentions to fly direct between Akureyri and mainland Europe, but many have also pulled out when conditions did not prove in their favour, including German Airline Condor which was set to fly to Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, East Iceland this summer. Plans to begin the services in 2024 are, however, reportedly underway.

Iceland’s President and First Lady to Visit Canada

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Eliza Reid

Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid will be on an official visit to Canada May 29 to June 1 at the invitation of Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon. It will be Iceland’s first official state visit to Canada since 2000 and has the goal of further strengthening the two countries’ good relations. Eliza is Canadian, born and raised in the country’s capital Ottawa.

The presidential couple will be accompanied by a delegation including Minister of Trade, Culture, and Tourism Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, and a number of representatives from Iceland’s business community, who intend to strengthen cooperation with Canada in the fishing industry, health technology, and the use of green energy.

The visit will begin in Eliza’s hometown of Ottawa, where the President and First Lady will meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon. Among the topics on their agenda are Iceland and Canada’s common interests, including language preservation in small language communities and youth public health.

In Ottawa, Eliza and Canadian author Whit Fraser (also Mary Simon’s husband) will hold a literary event titled “Stories from the North,” where they will talk to Canadian authors about the literary heritage of the two nations.

The visit will end in Toronto, where the President and First Lady will meet with the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. There, Business Iceland will also host an event bringing together Canadian investors and Icelandic businesses, where the President will address the guests.

Iceland and Canada celebrated the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations last year.

Why is Iceland called Iceland?

greenland

A popular story about the settlement of Iceland goes like this: to attract settlers to their new colony in Greenland, crafty Viking marketers named the settlement Greenland to attract more settlers. Iceland, so the story goes, was the more desirable real estate, and its settlers named it Iceland in order to guard their well-kept secret.

It’s a good story, but unfortunately, not entirely true.

There is good reason to believe that at the time of its settlement, Greenland was, in fact, rather green. Ice core analysis from the Greenland ice sheet suggests that from 800-1300 CE, average temperatures were slightly higher in Greenland than they are today. Norse settlements (creatively named the Eastern Settlement and the Western Settlement) were clustered around the southern tip of Greenland, at more southern latitudes than Iceland itself. Over time, the climate deteriorated, disease struck the settlers, and isolation from commerce gradually wore away at these settlements until they had disappeared by the 15th century. At the beginning of its settlement, however, Greenland may well have supported limited farming and may have been much greener than it is now.

Iceland, though warmed by the jet stream, is still rather cold. And although the Norse settlers did come to Iceland for the plentiful farmland, some of the first adventurers to come across Iceland were left with a rather cold impression. According to Landnámabók, the first person to spot Iceland was a Norwegian sailor named Naddodd. He lost his way sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands when he came in sight of a huge land mass. He went ashore in Eastern Iceland, near where the town of Reyðarfjörður sits today. He allegedly climbed a mountain and looked around for signs of humans, but he did not see anything. He went on his way, sailing to the Faroe Islands where he would settle in 825. And he told everyone that would listen that he discovered – not Iceland – but Snowland! Clearly, the Norse had a tendency to be rather descriptive in their naming. Their name for the New World, Vínland, referred to the wild berries that were found in abundance near their camps at L’Anse aux Meadows.

So while it’s true that Iceland is relatively more habitable and verdant than places at similar latitudes, it’s not entirely a hidden paradise either. Indeed, as we write this (nearly June), sharp, cold winds and hail continue to buffet visitors!