March 6, 2014 1:17 am
Updated: March 6, 2014 1:56 am

Inaugural flight from Iceland touches down at Edmonton International Airport

Icelandair's inaugural flight from Reykjavik touched down at EIA Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Ross Neitz, Global News

EDMONTON – Travellers departing from the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) now have easier access to Europe, thanks to a non-stop flight through Iceland.

Icelandair’s inaugural flight into Edmonton from Reykjavik touched down at EIA Wednesday afternoon. On that flight was Iceland’s prime minister, who is in Edmonton to promote his country.

“We’d like to strengthen our ties with Canada – our economic, social, cultural ties. So this is part of that focus,” said Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson.

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The approximately six-and-a-half hour flight between Edmonton and Reykjavik will regularly operate four days a week. During the busy summer months, the flight will run five days per week.

“It’s super awesome. Before you had to fly out of Halifax, so it’s really nice that we get the opportunity so much closer to home,” said Calgarian Carissa Baktay, who is heading to Iceland for a one-month artist residency.

READ MORE: EIA announces new Icelandair direct flight

The flight will also provide passengers an easier route to over 20 European cities.

“You can avoid some of the larger airports in Europe. You don’t have to go through Heathrow, you don’t have to go through Frankfurt if you don’t want to. I think it’s an excellent jump-off place for Europe,” said Pigeon Lake resident Rod Stevenson, who was leaving on the inaugural flight to Reykjavik Wednesday evening.

Mayor Don Iveson says the new connection will help strengthen ties between the regions on a number of fronts.

“I think this is really going to enhance travel opportunities and business opportunities for Edmonton,” he said. “This is critical for Edmonton’s success, for our business community, for our multi-cultural community to be able to connect with home all around the world… And for our researchers and students who also need connections to the world.”

“The more we can do to be adding more flights, trans-border flights, domestic flights and flights internationally, the better it helps our overall economy,” added Tom Ruth, president of EIA.

The inaugural flight out of Edmonton to Reykjavik was sold out. Icelandair is also offering travellers the option of staying in the country for seven days at no additional airfare.

With files from Ross Neitz, Global News.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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