Domestic Icelandic flights should become part of Iceland’s public transportation system and be subsidised by the state, says Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason. RÚV reports that Vilhjálmur would like to see domestic flights receive government funding, the same way that municipal buses and ferries currently do.
The current state of the domestic flight industry was discussed by Alþingi’s Environment and Transport Committee, which met at Vilhjálmur’s request on Thursday morning. Iceland’s leading domestic airlines have been curtailing their operations, both reducing their flight frequency and selling aircraft. Representatives from Eagle Air, Air Iceland Connect, and Isavia all attended Thursday’s meeting.
Vilhjálmur argued that it is part of the government’s agenda to support public transportation. He voiced his support for what is being called ‘the Scottish solution,’ a reference to the Scottish government’s policy of subsidising “air travel to the remotest parts of the county” in order to “support and develop direct routes across Scotland to foster inward investment, stimulate local business and maintain a thriving tourism industry.”
If this system were to be put into place next year as has been proposed, the first step would be subsidising domestic air fares. “I think that it’s entirely clear that domestic flights can’t compete in this small market with the increasing number of passengers,” Vilhjálmur said. “It won’t be enough to just increase domestic flights.”
“We need to make guaranteed contributions in order to maintain some basic services,” he continued. “Create a public transportation system so that flights can maintain a set frequency and price stability. And then we’ve got to assist customers at the other end. We’ll do that via the Scottish solution.”