‘We are in a serious and unpredictable situation. It is becoming harder for many Norwegian citizens to return home because more and more countries are closing their borders and airspace and introducing states of emergency. The Government wants very much to help travelling Norwegians get safely home to Norway. We are therefore working closely with SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe airlines to help Norwegian citizens who are now on trips abroad to return to Norway,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The Government has informed the airlines Widerøe, Norwegian and SAS that the Norwegian state is stepping forward to cover documentable additional costs of maintaining certain flights the airlines would otherwise have cancelled, or of making essential extraordinary flights to carry Norwegians who are travelling home through 31 March 2020. Which routes this will apply to is subject to dialogue with the companies, but of particular concern are the destinations where many travelling Norwegians are for now.
Flights information will be available on the airlines’ websites. The airlines will charge normal payment from travellers, and it is through the airlines that tickets are to be booked in the usual way. The airlines will be attempting to limit additional costs.
‘I am grateful for the good cooperation we have had with the airlines,’ said Minister of Transport Knut Arild Hareide. ‘They are the ones who will be administering this, and people trying to get home must contact the airlines directly. Our common goal is to allow many travelling Norwegians to make it home, and we are looking in particular at places where there are many of them. I would like to thank SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe and their personnel who are pitching in to make this collective effort work.’
Norwegian citizens on short-term stays abroad are urged to return home. ‘Short-term stays’ refers to Norwegian nationals who are permanently resident in Norway but temporarily travelling out of the country. Long-term residents abroad should follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
‘We are closely monitoring the situation and considering whether other steps can be taken to facilitate the return of Norwegian nationals. My Nordic colleagues and I have agreed to work closely to help Nordic nationals. We are also working with the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre to look into common solutions to assist travellers in extraordinary situations where it is not possible to get Norwegian nationals home. We are also coordinating with the authorities in many other countries in an effort to keep air traffic operating and secure landing permits and transit connections,’ the Foreign Minister said.
Many Norwegian nationals travelling outside the country find themselves in difficulty due to the coronavirus pandemic and are seeking ways of returning to Norway. We seek to help as many of them as possible but must contend with increasingly stringent entry and exit restrictions in very many countries due to infection-control concerns. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has experienced a massive volume of enquiries from travellers and Norwegians who are abroad. The Ministry has scaled up staffing at its operational centre. In the past three days the operational centre has received more than 5 500 enquiries. Those who enquire receive instructions and advice on how to tackle this demanding situation. A great deal of information for travellers is posted and continuously updated at regjeringen.no/korona.