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OFFBEAT

Boat in the clouds helps Swede spy on reindeer

A man in northern Sweden uses a rubber boat with wings to get a birds-eye view of his reindeer herd. The Local finds out more about his unusual aircraft and his life in the clouds.

Boat in the clouds helps Swede spy on reindeer

Stig Nordspets, 56, is a self-employed reindeer keeper in Parkalompolo, a community in Sweden’s far north which boasts a grand total of 40 residents (not including reindeer, of course).

While the combination of reindeer, flying, and the Arctic Circle may conjure up images of Santa Claus, Rudolf, and a slew of industrious elves, Nordspets’s work is not all fun and games, and cruising the skies at up to 100 kilometres per hour is hardly for the faint-hearted.

The Local found out more.

The Local: How did you come to think of using a flying boat to keep track of reindeer?

Stig Nordspets I looked around on the internet and saw that a man in Italy had a similar aircraft. So, my thoughts spun away to buying one myself, and that’s where I found this boat, which I bought in Orsa [central Sweden].

TL: Was it your initial idea to use it for reindeer keeping?

SN: Yes, it was, I thought it would be interesting, and it can be rather time consuming to track reindeer on land. Those who want to track them from above normally do so from a hydroplane, but no one that I know of has ever used a flying rubber boat before, so I thought, “Why not?”

TL: Do you ever get frightened being up there alone?

SN: No; it’s a wonderful feeling – I feel free and in charge. I’m so used to it by now. But it can get very unsteady during heavy wind and rain. I’ve never been in danger though, it just gets very difficult to stay up in the air. But when that happens, I just land and wait for the wind or rain to pass.

TL: Why is it so important to herd reindeer?

SN: We need to keep the reindeer tame and manageable because they need to be accustomed to close encounters with humans. You cannot milk a reindeer unless it’s fairly tame. And also, I monitor them from above and report to the reindeer herders on land. It makes the whole process easier.

TL: What do you have planned for your next reindeer-related venture?

SN: I’d like to fly a small gyrocopter sometime, other than that I might look around to see if there’s anything else interesting I can fly.

Derya Aktas

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NORWEGIAN

Norwegian to slash staff by half in wake of Trump travel ban

Norwegian Air Shuttle said on Thursday it would temporarily lay off up to half its staff, following the US travel ban and the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Norwegian to slash staff by half in wake of Trump travel ban
A Boeing 737 33-S operated by Norwegian landing at Oslo's Gardermoen Airport. Photo: Erlend Aas/ NTB Scanpix/AFP
“The new restrictions imposed further pressure on an already difficult situation,” Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said in a statement, referring to the 30-day travel ban from Europe to the US introduced by US president Donald Trump.
   
“Due to the extraordinary market situation as a result of the coronavirus… we must look at all possible measures to reduce costs,” the company said in a statement.
   
“This unfortunately also includes temporary lay-offs of up to 50 percent of our employees and the number may increase,” it added, confirming the staff would be let go.
 
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The low-cost carrier also said it was cancelling more than 4,000 flights, including 3,000 already announced on Tuesday.
   
“We do not rule out that others may follow,” airline spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told AFP. “The situation is changing from minute to minute,” he told AFP.
   
According to the airline, about 40 percent of its long-haul fleet would be grounded as it was cancelling the majority of flights from European airports to the US.
   
The company said it would continue to operate flights between London — which is excluded from the travel ban — and the US, and hoped to re-route as many of its passengers as possible.
   
Norwegian, which has been in deficit for three years and is heavily indebted due to an ambitious expansion policy, especially in long-haul flights, has been plummeting on the Oslo Stock Exchange.
   
On Thursday, after the announcement by the US president, the share fell by 22 percent. The stock has fallen by over 80 percent in the last month.
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