The Norwegian government was taking action on Friday to help its citizens who want to leave Japan, following last week’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and the resulting danger of nuclear contamination. Foreign ministry staff arranged two special flights to bring Norwegians home.
The ministry was careful to word its announcement of the flights on Friday, claiming the Norwegian government was not planning an “evacuation” of Norwegian citizens, but rather contributing towards helping them leave if they so chose.
The unusual offer of specially arranged flights also was being extended to citizens of other Nordic countries, as space allowed.
The ministry wrote on its website Friday morning that two Norwegian flights would take off from Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Saturday morning, March 19. They would land shortly thereafter at the Kansai airport outside Osaka to pick up more passengers, and then fly directly to Oslo’s airport at Gardermoen (OSL).
The flights “are meant for Norwegian citizens and their closest family,” announced the ministry (Utenriksdepartementet, UD), but also other citizens of Nordic countries as space allowed.
Passengers would be required to pay NOK 5,000 (about USD 900) for their share of the ticket price. The rest would be covered by the state.
The special flight arrangements were being offered because commercial flights out of Japan reportedly were filling up, making it increasingly difficult to leave the country. “The ministry is encouraging Norwegians who want to leave the country to make use of flight offer,” wrote ministry officials on their website (external link, in Norwegian).
Norway’s embassy in Tokyo was also holding another information meeting for Norwegians on Friday evening. The ministry earlier issued an official warning against travel to Japan or staying in the country.