Thursday 31 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 31/8/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Nicolás Vera-Ortiz

Opinion / Gabriel Leigh

Winging it

Last week marked a historic moment for Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. It was an exciting, if uncertain, attempt at expansion, with the company flying its first-ever service to the US. The carrier has been considering adding flights to New York for the past few years, something that has been made possible by the acquisition of two long-range Airbus A320Neo planes. However, the launch was delayed for years by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that the service has become a reality, one of its current challenges is that it is operated to and from Stewart International Airport in upstate New York. Due to its proximity to the city centre – a 90-minute bus ride from Manhattan – the airport has struggled to attract passengers over the years. As Monocle joined Atlantic Airways’s first trip to Vágar in the Faroe Islands, it seemed as though airport management was more excited about the flight than the airline itself.

A lack of awareness about the Faroe Islands in the US and the fact that there is only a once-weekly connection in September are among other difficulties that the service faces. Just 45 passengers boarded the inaugural flight on an aircraft that can seat 180. According to Atlantic Airways, however, there are more bookings in the coming weeks. The company clearly has high hopes for the service, with its CEO indicating that it will return in 2024 to run for the entire summer season.

For the Faroe Islands, it is a very interesting time, especially when it comes to managing a growing tourism industry. Border control at Vágar Airport is already too small to house a full flight – if you’re not one of the first 20 people off the plane, odds are that you’ll be queueing outside in what could be howling wind and rain. But then again, when it comes to the Faroe Islands, that’s just the kind of adventure you might be looking for.

Gabriel Leigh is Monocle’s transport correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Shutterstock

Affairs / Turkey & Russia

Playing the long grain

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gained international kudos for helping to broker the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which cleared the way for Ukraine to export crops in the early stages of Russia’s invasion. In late July, however, the deal collapsed. A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party announced that Erdogan plans to meet Vladimir Putin “soon”, with some reports indicating that the meeting will take place in September, in the hopes of convincing him to change his position.

Whether Erdogan has any influence over Putin at this point is unclear. Moscow was probably irked by the Turkish president’s statement last month in which he declared that Ukraine “deserves to join Nato”. Still, the forthcoming talks are a sign of Ankara’s continuing desire to mediate tensions and Erdogan deserves the chance to play a constructive role.

Image: Nathalie Mohadjer

Monocle Quality of Life Conference / Munich

Talk of the town

Monocle’s 2023 edition of the annual Quality of Life Conference kicks off in Munich today. Featuring three days of new encounters, sparkling conversation and bright ideas, tune in to Monocle Radio for a live broadcast from the Bavarian capital.

With speakers including Lagos-based designer Tosin Oshinowo and Eleni Myrivili, global chief heat officer at UN-Habitat, the conference will tackle everything from how businesses should prepare for geopolitical crises to how to invest in the public realm. In need of something a little closer to home? Don’t worry, we’ll be teaching attendees how to be more Bavarian and dress like one while they’re at it – and yes, that means lederhosen.

Image: Paulius Staniunas

Diplomacy / Timor-Leste

In the driving seat

José Ramos-Horta, the president of Timor-Leste, doesn’t behave like a leader who has narrowly survived an assassination attempt. The Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient buzzes around the Southeast Asian nation’s capital Dili in a bright-blue Miki Moke. “Some of my staff don’t understand my thinking,” Ramos-Horta tells Monocle during a recent visit. “They have this view that the president is very solemn. I have a different concept of power.” Timor-Leste is one of the region’s most vibrant democracies, with a committed free press and, at least since 2008, a relatively peaceful political climate.

It is a small nation whose fate was once dictated by much larger ones: first as a Portuguese colony and then, from 1975 to 1999, by neighbouring Indonesia. But today Ramos-Horta’s eyes are on the future, with impending memberships to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the World Trade Organisation, and an economy on the up. “You don’t forget the past, particularly when it’s tragic,” he says. “No one is talking about legislating or decreeing reconciliation. It comes from the heart and mind of individuals.”

For our full report on Timor-Leste and how its president is steering the country from brutal occupation to a brighter future, pick up Monocle’s September issue, which is out now.

Fashion / Switzerland

Second hand show?

Watch industry professionals and collectors are heading to Geneva this week where Swiss watch companies will be presenting new designs at the Rotonde du Mont-Blanc pavilion. The occasion is Geneva Watch Days, a salon started in 2020 by brands such as Bulgari, Breitling and Girard-Perregaux to offer an alternative to the city’s larger-scale Watches and Wonders fair. The event, which takes place until Saturday, provides a more intimate setting in which to host colleagues and customers.

This year is proving to be one of the busiest yet, with Bulgari unveiling new iterations of the popular Octo Finissimo, the École d’Horlogerie designing a space to promote the watchmaking profession and plenty of discussion symposiums on the agenda – Rolex’s recent acquisition of Bucherer is bound to result in animated conversations. “The salon has been growing in scale and prestige,” says Delphine Bachmann, Geneva’s state councillor. “It has become an international showcase for Swiss watchmaking, which accounted for more than CHF24bn (€25bn) in exports in 2022. Almost half of these exports come from Geneva, which is excellent news for our economy.”

Image: Conny Mirbach

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Schumann’s Bar am Hofgarten

Tom Webb takes us to Munich’s best-known bar, where owner Charles Schumann is famous for cultivating exceptional hospitality.

Monocle Films / Culture

Portuguese problem-solving

Lisbon-based architect and artist Joana Astolfi takes us on a journey into the Portuguese word desenrascanço, meaning to find an improvised solution to a problem. She explains what it says about Portuguese culture and how it’s embodied through an unusual structure in Comporta. Read more stories from the country with Portugal: The Monocle Handbook.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00