So far this year seven Icelandic air traffic controllers have started working in Iraq and another is due to go there in the near future.
About one fifth of Icelandic air traffic controllers have found work overseas since the global economic crisis hit in 2008.
According to the Association of Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers, there are currently around 90 people working in air traffic control in Iceland. 10-20 others have begun working in other countries in recent times. They have mostly gone to the Middle East; to Oman and Abu Dabi. Foreign air traffic controllers are also now heading for Baghdad following the transfer of the service from the military to civilians.
“There is better pay on offer there,” says Otto Eiriksson, the chairman of the Association of Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers. In addition to the seven Icelandic controllers in Baghdad already and the one who plans to go there soon, Eiriksson told RUV that others are also considering their options. He believes another four or five air traffic controllers will probably go overseas before the New Year.
Icelandic air traffic controllers are in a pay dispute and have been operating an over-time ban on and off since the middle of February. It has only twice led to disruption of scheduled flights.