Because an air traffic controller called in sick, Reykjavík Airport was closed between 9 pm last night and 7 am this morning, according to Vísir. It will be closed again this evening and through tomorrow morning. As far as Vísir can tell, no one was on call to replace the person who called in sick, so no one would have been available in case of an emergency.
Air traffic controllers have been involved in a labor dispute with their employer for months. On June 8, Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, voted to put an end to the overtime ban that had been in effect since April 6. Negotiators in the dispute have until June 24 to reach an agreement, or else an arbitration court will determine the wages of air traffic controllers.
Leifur Hallgrímsson, CEO of Mýflug, which handles emergency medical flights, was asked by Vísir what medical flight pilots would do if they had to get to Reykjavík right away. He replied, “I myself would land if I were on call that night. They would just take me away in handcuffs. But we won’t let patients die; that won’t happen, even if this is a labor dispute.”
He said there are on average one to two medical flights a week. As it is now, such flights would be diverted to Keflavík International Airport, unless an exception was granted in case of emergency.
Negotiations between air traffic controllers and Isavia have not been successful. The next meeting is planned for Friday.