Right decision based on the forecast

Bogi Nílsson the CEO of Icelandair.

Bogi Nílsson the CEO of Icelandair. mbl.is/Árni Sæberg

It was the right decision not to postpone or cancel flights from North America yesterday morning based on the knowledge of the weather at the time, according to Icelandair’s CEO Nils Bogason. He says the weather forecast did not indicate that the weather would be as bad as it actually was.

Stuck onboard for hours

Around eight hundred passengers were trapped on board seven aircrafts arriving with the company yesterday morning from North America. The planes landed around six in the morning, with the last passengers disembarking at around six o’clock that afternoon, or 12 hours later.

On Saturday, the Icelandic Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for South Iceland and West Iceland at Faxaflói Bay, later updated to orange. Hail, bad visibility and gale force winds were forecast. On Saturday night at about 6:30 PM a meeting of the weather operations board of Isavia was held with airlines and air service companies.

The weather hit earlier

“As we are always doing, running an airline here in Iceland all year round, our people have to check weather forecasts and work with meteorologists and assess the situation. It was there that the planes would be able to come and go to Europe. Then, with more intense wind than forecast, the weather would come down earlier and the conditions were much more difficult than forecasts had predicted,” Bogi stated.

Landsbjörg Rescue team ready to evacuate one of the airplanes …

Landsbjörg Rescue team ready to evacuate one of the airplanes yesterday. Photo/Landsbjörg Rescue team

Would it not have been better to cancel or postpone flights?

“If we had known when the weather came, what it was like and what the conditions were like, it would have been better. But considering the information on the table and the forecasts, the decision was made correctly.

We’ve been working that way for the past few years and have been doing more of the pre-emptive, cancel flights, and such, if forecasts support that decision. But based on the forecast and given the criteria we had, it was the right decision. But then, just like that, the reality becomes different.”

Most toilets were functional

Icelandair passengers were unhappy with the service on board the planes while they were on standby in the airport. As you could read on Twitter yesterday, some complained that food and drink had run out. There was also a problem with toilets.

“I think in most of the cases the toilets were functional, and there was some food and the like. Our staff did a really great job under very difficult conditions. Naturally, we would never have sent the planes off if we had not assumed that it was not going to work. You cannot pack airplanes differently if you have the slightest inkling that there might be problems, there is only so much that can be on board a fully boarded plane,” says Bogi, asked if the planes could have been better prepared since the weather was looking quite bad.


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