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Reykjavík streetlife is something of an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. In the winter in particular, locals abandon the main street Laugavegur to the droves of travellers, seeking the comfort of home during the dark days. But even during the shortest days of the season, there are oases in Reykjavík, beacons of light where families […]

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From Goalkeeper to President? Björgvin Páll Says “Not Yet”

Goalkeeper Björgvin Páll Gústavsson

National handball team goalkeeper Björgvin Páll Gústavsson has decided not to run for the presidency of Iceland, despite a longstanding dream and public speculation about his candidacy. Björgvin cites a lack of experience and other personal dreams as reasons for not pursuing the office. Presidential elections are set for June 1.

A dream deferred

In his annual New Year’s address, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson announced that he would be stepping down from the presidency after two terms in office, having served eight years in total. Guðni had previously declared that he would only serve three terms at most. Since his decision, a handful of individuals have announced their candidacy (none of whom have been especially popular in the polls). 

Among those individuals who have been linked to the candidacy is Björgvin Páll Gústavsson, the men’s national handball team goalkeeper and player for the Icelandic club Valur. In a Facebook post today, however, Björgvin Páll clarified that he would not be running for the office of the President.

“I have many dreams, one of them is to someday become the President of Iceland,” Björgvin Páll said on Facebook. “But not now. I do not consider myself experienced enough to be president. Besides, there are all sorts of other dreams getting in the way that I need to fulfil first. These dreams are related to sports, my children, and all the other children. One is allowed to dream, and as Vigdís Finnbogadóttir put it during her inauguration in 1980: ‘We are the stuff that dreams are spun from,’” Björgvin Páll remarked.

In his post, Björgvin notes that his dream of becoming president first ignited during an admission into the Children and Adolescent Psychiatric Department of the National Hospital (BUGL) when he was just eight years old. This dream was further reinforced when he was awarded the Order of the Falcon 15 years later. Following the publication of his children’s book, A Child Becomes President, in December 2022, a poll was conducted by the media outlet Vísir and the radio programme Reykjavík síðdegis, wherein 40% of respondents said that they could envision Björgvin as president.

Presidential elections will take place on June 1 of this year and the new president’s term will begin on August 1. Among those individuals who have already announced their candidacy are entrepreneur Ástþór Magnússon, attorney Arnar Þór Jónsson, and investor Sigríður Hrund Pétursdóttir.

In Full View

Hörður Kristleifsson @h0rdur

Hörður Kristleifsson is a 25-year-old photographer who’s been practising his craft since 2010, when he got his first camera. But things really took off in 2018, when he got his got his first drone. “Since then,” Hörður tells me, “it’s been a passion that’s kept on growing. You just get such a unique perspective with […]

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A Profitable 2023 for Icelandair Despite Q4 Challenges

Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX

Icelandair rebounded from years of losses to an ISK 1.5 billion [$11 million / €10 million] profit in 2023, with passenger numbers up 17% and plans for expanded flight service in 2024 despite fourth-quarter challenges.

A profit after a series of challenging years

In a report on its Q4 and 12-month 2023 performance, Icelandair revealed that the airline earned a profit of ISK 1.5 billion ISK in 2023 [$11 million / €10 million] in 2023, which is a significant turnaround from last year when the airline experienced a loss of ISK 800 million [$5.9 million / €5.4 million]. As noted by RÚV, Icelandair had previously reported losses since 2017. 

“It is an important milestone to report a profit after taxes for the entire year after challenging recent years. Revenue generation was very strong this year, and we successfully met the high demand across all our markets, especially from North America to Iceland,” Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair, told RÚV yesterday. He is positive about the outlook.

“The market to Iceland is rebounding following recent events, with Iceland remaining a sought-after destination. We are also seeing a higher proportion of bookings across the Atlantic than before. Our flight schedule for 2024 will be about 11% larger than in 2023, with 57 destinations, including three new ones – Pittsburgh, Halifax, and Vágar in the Faroe Islands,” Bogi Nils stated. 

The number of passengers flying with Icelandair was 4.3 million in 2023, an increase of 17% since last year. Seat utilisation for passengers within Iceland in 2023 also increased by 2%. The airline’s liquidity position amounted to ISK 44 billion ($323 million / €297 million) at the end of the year.

Fourth-quarter performance marred by geological unrest

Icelandair’s announcement highlighted that seismic activities, volcanic eruptions, and air traffic controllers’ strikes significantly impacted the airline’s fourth-quarter performance: “Following the news that the town of Grindavík was evacuated due to anticipated volcanic eruptions, bookings dropped significantly.” 

Mbl.is reported that shares in Icelandair had fallen by 6.9% during the first trades on NASDAQ Iceland this morning.

Police Probe Six-Year-Old’s Death in Kópavogur, Woman Detained

A six-year-old boy was found dead in his home in Kópavogur on Wednesday. A woman in her fifties was subsequently remanded in custody.

Withholding further detail

A six-year-old boy, who was a first-grade student at the Álfhólsskóli primary school in Kópavogur, was found dead in his home on Wednesday morning. A woman in her fifties was subsequently remanded in custody by the police. Law enforcement, citing the sensitive nature of the case, have withheld further details at this time.

RÚV reported that the woman, whose relation to the boy has not been disclosed, was arrested yesterday. The boy’s father expressed his grief over his son’s death in a post on his Facebook page.

Yesterday, the principal of the Álfhólsskóli primary school communicated with the parents of the schoolchildren, informing them that the deceased was a student in the first grade. The school has subsequently activated its crisis response team. In the upcoming days, this team will focus on working with first-grade students, as well as other students and staff members, who require support. 

Iceland News Review: Counting Birds, Hunting Whales, Corruption And More!

INR

In this episode of Iceland News Review, we report on some good news for disaster preparedness. Last month’s eruptions near Grindavík has motivated Parliament to set up a special fund to deal with sudden catastrophes, but it may take some time yet before it can be established.

In other news, we report on how fin whale hunters and the government are at odds, corruption in Iceland, the annual bird count, plus weather, road conditions and much more!

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!