Santa’s flights: is Christmas cancelled this year?

Shutterstuck / Oleg latsun

Seems like Santa Claus will not be boarding his annual flights for visits around the world. Is there still hope for Christmas 2020?

For the last 30 years, Santa has been flying for annual Christmas visits around the world. He has been meeting his fans in East Asia: Japan, China and South Korea. Normally, the meetings with Santa attract big crowds and many pictures taken. This year, however, most of Santa’s travel is cancelled due to the risk of coronavirus infection. 

“Normally we have many large events before Christmas in Japan, Korea and China. We have made these for 20 years with partners like Finnair, Finnish Embassies, and many others,” the Santa Claus Foundation CEO Jari Ahjoharju told Yle News.

“Before Christmas every year, Finland’s national airline brings Santa Claus to Japan,” wrote Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, “but this year’s trip has been cancelled due to the impact of the novel coronavirus.”

Before the pandemic, Finland’s flag carrier Finnair had been flying Santa Claus from his home in Finland over the Arctic Circle for his annual visits around the world. In December 2018, Finnair flew Santa for a four-day festive campaign. The airline has also flown Santa to visit Hungarian kids every December for sixteen years, according to the Finnish Institute FinnAgora.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that Santa Claus, together with his elves and reindeers, would indeed be making rounds to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Santa reached out to ministries around the world to make sure he can deliver presents on time. 

“Covid-19-related travel restrictions do not apply to flying reindeer, if those reindeer are pulling a sleigh full of presents. Additionally, the driver of such a sleigh automatically receives a temporary exemption from such restrictions in order to carry out delivery of such gifts,” said the Finish Ministry. 

For those wanting to track Santa’s Christmas journey, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) offers an annual Christmas-themed program. On the organization’s website, parents and their kids can see Mr. Claus’ preparation for the journey and track his travel on December 24. 

This year, Santa’s sleigh will perform a ceremonial fly-by of the International Space Station (ISS) on December 24. The six astronauts currently residing in the ISS might be pleasantly surprised by Santa’s gifts. The NORAD website will provide a glimpse to a 3D model of Santa as he delivers presents and a 3D model of the ISS as it orbits the Earth in their real-time locations. 


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