Thursday, 28 February 2008

Iceland Express birthday

Budget airline Iceland Express celebrated its fifth anniversary on February 27. On that day in 2003 the inaugural flight from Reykjavik to Copenhagen and London was airborne, starting an active competition between international carriers in Iceland that travellers welcomed with open arms. The number of passengers has increased every year, as well as destinations.

Since the first flight five years ago, Iceland Express' European destinations have increased from two to fourteen and in addition to operating from Keflavik Airport the airline now operates flights from Akureyri and Egilsstaðir to Copenhagen during the summer months. Iceland Express' goal from the beginning has been to enable Icelanders to travel more easily at a lower price. For the last few summers the people in Akureyri and Egilsstaðir have been able to fly directly abroad, saving both time and money and increasing the number of tourists in Akureyri and Egilsstaðir at the same time.

Iceland Express' destinations this summer will be Copenhagen, London, Alicante, Basel, Berlin, Billund, Eindhoven, Frankfurt Hahn, Friedrichshafen, Gothenburg, Paris, Stockholm, Barcelona and Warsaw. The Warsaw route marks the first time a direct route between Poland and Iceland is operated. Barcelona is also a new summer destination, the airline started servicing the route last fall and will continue this summer.

The founding of Iceland Express marked the beginning of an active competition between international carriers in Iceland in recent years. The airline has since day one offered tickets at considerably lower prices than were previously available. Travellers can purchase tickets at a low price regardless of how long the trip will be but previously had to stay abroad over Sunday night in order to get a lower price. Iceland Express has also offered one-way tickets at a low price.

"Iceland Express has grown substantially in the last five years and we will continue to do so. We have enjoyed a great reception from Icelanders and tourists from the beginning, which shows that it is important for Icelanders and the Icelandic travel industry to have an active competition on international routes," says Matthías Imsland, CEO Iceland Express.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Helsinki-Vantaa rated top in survey

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) has once again attained the top rank in the extensive international Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey. The 2007 survey ranked Helsinki-Vantaa as the third-best airport in Europe.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has been among the top airports in the world since 1997. Its success factors include its general pleasantness, staff courtesy, clean terminals and a sense of security.

Finavia Airport Director Juha-Pekka Pystynen notes that the worldwide ASQ survey is an important service development tool.

- The results of that survey are by no means self-evident. We strive to keep passengers happy every day of the year," he says.

In the ASQ survey, passengers are asked to appraise 34 airport service quality factors. The survey is conducted by Airports Council International (ACI). The 2007 survey covered 90 airports and involved interviews with nearly 200,000 passengers all around the world.

In 2007, passengers ranked Helsinki-Vantaa Airport the third-best in Europe, after Porto Airport and Zurich Airport. Helsinki-Vantaa shares third place with Munich. The complete results of the ASQ survey are available at the ACI website.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has received several other distinctions too, being placed in the top rank in Europe by Reader's Digest, the Skytrax Internet survey and the Wanderlust travel magazine.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Book phenomenom - Stieg Larsson

Every year there is a book that just stands out and takes the world by storm, 2008 will probably be the year of the Millennium trilogy. There has been a prolific flow of crime-fiction coming out of the Nordic region over the last few decades and frankly this will top them all.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first volume of the Millennium Trilogy, the novels that a Swedish journalist called Stieg Larsson delivered to a publisher only a short time before he died aged 50. Larsson, well known in Sweden as a campaigning journalist exposing racist organisations, sent his first novel to the publisher only after his friends who had read the manuscripts urged him to do so. He arrived with three, each one of them a substantial typescript. Stieg Larsson died of a massive heart attack before the first one was published.

These novels have become a phenomenon in the Nordic region and are one by one soaring into the bestseller lists in Europe. The publisher claims that in Denmark only the bible has sold more copies than the Millenium books. In Sweden over 2 million copies have been sold and that is a country with a population around 11 million. The books are already being made into films but the English language rights have not been sold yet.

Tattoo is the first of his Millennium Trilogy to be published in the UK. It is a violent thriller that focuses on a complex financial fraud and a powerful family's sinister secret. It starts slowly, with details of how a Swedish company is ripping off government funding to set up a fake business in Russia. The novel picks up speed when it gets into the complexities of the wealthy Vanger family's past. Forty years earlier, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the family's private island. Nobody saw her leave, there was no sign of her disappearance and no corpse. Her uncle, however, is convinced that a family member murdered her.

A journalist, Blomqvist, in disgrace after losing a libel case arising from his reporting of the financial scandal, takes on the investigation of the woman's disappearance. Almost immediately, he sees a link with a number of other murders taking place around the same time. The family only pretends to help and Blomqvist doesn't know where to go next.

Then he hooks up with the titular tattooed girl - a very angry punk hacker. The journalist and the hacker are ingenious, believable creations, in conflict with themselves and each other. They form an incongruous but credible bond as everyone they meet is against them. In the end, the novel becomes, among many other things, something of a tender love story.

Friday, 15 February 2008


Nice little video below showcasing the history of the airline Icelandair.