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Man of the Year

Frjals Verslun (Free Enterprise) has nominated Sigurdur Helgason, CEO of Icelandair, as businessman of the year 2004 in Iceland. In a year of remarkable economic growth across many of the companies listed on the Icelandic stock exchange, Helgason and Icelandair stood out.

Helgason has been CEO of Icelandair since June 1985. For the first nine months of this year, Icelandair’s return before taxes was 3,3 billion ISK (USD 52.1 million) and everything points to this year being the second best in the history of the company.

The company would be commendable for doing well while other prominent airlines are having difficulties turning a profit. But what has drawn the attention of many in the business community are two key actions that speak to the future of Icelandair. The first is Icelandair’s purchase of a 10.1% share of Easyjet, the British low-fare airline, in October of this year. Easyjet is the second largest discount European airline.

The other head-turner, also in the fall, was Icelandair’s announcement that they will be adding San Francisco as a destination, their first Pacific stop. The company has already demonstrated skill in using a few pinpoints to facilitate travel in larger geographical areas.

With flights out of San Francisco, they expect to be able to serve both the Northwest and Southwest United States, in addition to Hawaii and other Pacific locations.

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