Swedish airport efficiency

Sitting in the airport lounge waiting for my flight to Helsinki, I am amazed by Swedish efficiency. Outside, the heavens have opened. It has been tanking down with snow all day long. And yet, no flights are cancelled or delayed. Snow ploughs are working feverishly to clear the runways. De-icing trucks are eagerly spraying fluids over the bodies and wings of the planes. Staff are shovelling and transporting snow from one place to another.

This is Swedish efficiency at its best. In England, a few flakes of snow and the airport would have been shut, stranding passengers.

I don’t know how long this Swedish efficiency can win against the elements. Long enough for me to be boarded and on my way, I hope.

Sickly Swedes

Interesting article about Sweden in March’s issue of Monocle magazine by Elna Nykänen Andersson.

She talks about a report released in January this year by the Social Insurance Inspectorate which looked at the number of sick days taken by Swedes.

In 2005, 14% of the working age population were on sick and incapacity benefits. This was more than any of the 30 major countries in the OECD. Interestingly, over 50%of the Swedes who were on benefits were away for more than 6 months, compared to the other OECD ccountries where this figure was between 10-20%.

However, according to the report released in January, this has changed. The number of people on sick and incapacity benefits has dropped dramatically, as has the number of people on long-term benefits.

So, is this a miracle of health care? Has it do with an upsurge in national fitness levels? Has there been an increase in medication? No.

In 2008, the Swedish government introduced check-ups every three months for those on sick leave. And amazingly, many people have discovered that they are well enough to work after all.

According to the report, the Swedish state has saved 650 million crowns in benefit payments.

So that’s where the money came from to reimburse commuters for the delays in the public transportation system.