Airlines Eye Direct Flights Between China and Iceland

Keflavík airport

Chinese airlines, such as Juneyao and Air China, are exploring direct flights between China and Iceland. He Rulong, the Chinese ambassador to Iceland, revealed this at a press conference at the Chinese embassy today, reports.

Shanghai or Beijing to Keflavík

Last week, the ambassador discussed potential flight routes with Isavia, the national airport and air navigation service provider of Iceland. He told reporters that Isavia wants to strengthen its cooperation with Chinese airlines and that direct flights could begin within a few years. He hopes to see them up and running even sooner, as a large portion of tourists in Iceland visit from China.

“The discussions have been ongoing this year and I know they’re looking at options with a few different airlines,” the ambassador said. “The flights could be between Keflavík and either Shanghai or Beijing.”

Plans halted by pandemic

Direct flights had been in discussion shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began and the airline Juneyao was already planning flights from Shanghai to Keflavík with a layover in Helsinki, Finland. Two flights per week were being scheduled, but the pandemic disrupted these plans.

“Many are now asking when this could happen,” the ambassador said. “Some say in five years, others in three. My answer would be that we should be even more optimistic and work hard to make this happen sooner rather than later.”

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Belugas Arrive to Iceland Sanctuary Next Month

Beluga whale

Beluga whales Little White and Little Grey will undertake a long journey next month, when they will be transported from their current home in China to a specially-built sanctuary in Iceland. Their new home, located in the Westman Islands, is the first-ever open sea beluga whale sanctuary. RÚV reported first.

The two 13-year-old whales are currently housed in a Shanghai amusement park where they are kept in concrete pools. As they were raised in captivity, it is impossible to release them into the wild. Their new home will provide them with significantly better living conditions. In the Westman Islands, the whales will be housed in a sea pen, but the sanctuary also has enclosed tanks where they can be moved in case of bad weather or need of special care.

The whales have been preparing for the upcoming journey for months, both through diet and exercise. Snacking on high-fat fish is preparing the pair for colder water temperatures than they are used to, while additional exercise led by specialists will help them adapt to their new, larger home. The whales will cross nearly 10,000km (6,200mi) on their journey to Iceland, travelling by land, sea, and air.