The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed uncertainty about the availability of flights to Iceland after April 15th. All Icelanders abroad are urged to take advantage of Icelandair repatriation flights before next Wednesday.
“Air transport will not completely cease after April 15th, but it is still unclear what it will be like,” reads a statement released on the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affair’s website last night. A deal was struck between the government and Icelandair on 28th March to ensure repatriation flights could go ahead, but the agreement is set to expire next week and it is uncertain what will happen next. The stipulations of the current agreement require Icelandair to fly a minimum of six flights a week to Stockholm, Boston and London in exchange for up to 100 million ISK in government-sponsored loans.
Iceland’s government has been cautious not to halt all air traffic to and from the country in order to ensure Icelanders abroad and foreign tourists in Iceland can return home. The government’s statement confirms that Iceland’s borders will not close to air traffic in the near future, but it seems likely that the number of flights entering the country will decrease once again.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges all Icelanders who are currently abroad to return as swiftly as possible. They are warned to avoid using airlines other than Icelandair as other operators are likely to cancel flights at short notice. Websites showing scheduled flights are no guarantee a flight will still run as many airlines are only able to remove flights from their booking systems one to two days before the scheduled departure. Icelandair flights are set to depart from Boston, London, Stockholm and Alicante over the next couple of days. All Icelanders on these flights will be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days following their arrival in the country.
The arrival of a flight from Alicante on Wednesday is particularly notable. Many Icelanders have been stranded in the country over recent weeks as it has overtaken Italy to become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted 475 individuals in Spain, at least 90 of whom have booked themselves on to Wednesday’s Icelandair flight, visir reports. Around half the seats on the flight have been bought so far, so there is still an opportunity for Icelanders in Spain to buy a ticket home.
The government has also highlighted the situation of Icelanders in the United States. Icelandic citizens are reminded that their ESTA travel permits will not automatically renew due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that if they overstay their visa period they may be barred from entering the USA in the future. The statement quotes a Civil Service spokeswoman: “only those who have a legitimate reason for not hurrying home, such as hospitalisation or other such unforeseeable reasons, can [have their ESTAs] extended.”
For more travel information visit the government website. Further assistance can be obtained from the civil service by calling +354-545-0-112 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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