This story will be updated throughout the day.
Norway’s government is paying airlines up to one billion krone to continue 684 flights per week on 23 routes “considered critical to society to maintain operations,” including daily service between Svalbard and the mainland, as carriers are slashing schedules and facing near-term bankruptcy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Aircraft is an important part of the transportation in an area with many remote locations like Norway,” Minister of Transportation said in a prepared statement.
Daily flights between Oslo and Svalbard, some with stopovers in Tromsø, by Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Air are being subsidized on an alternating-day carrier basis.
Svalbard remains free of officially diagnosed Coronavirus cases, and no new restrictions or other emergency developments were reported, as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
Numerous businesses, organizations are continuing to offer special purchases/activities, as well as reduce or cease operations at least temporarily.
• The Mexican food truck Tio Moncho’s is operating again with menu of daily changing “specials” in lieu of the normal menu. All food is being provided cold for reheating at home, with delivery available if pickup isn’t desired/possible. Orders today are being taken from 4-8 p.m. See Facebook page or send text message to 9399 7177 for orders.
• Frost Spitsbergen is offering 20 percent off all shoes and clothes.
• Russian fishing vessels, including those in Svalbard, are at risk of stopping as Norwegian ports are practically closed for crew changes, according to The Independent Barents Observer. The news site reports 90 percent of Russia’s fisheries in European Arctic waters are done by 80 vessels bought or repaired abroad. For customs reasons, they can’t make port calls to Murmansk.