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Norwegian Air Takes Historic Flight with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Stored in DNA

Press release   •   Nov 18, 2019 16:00 EST

-U.N. Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Ground-breaking Human Rights Treaty - 

OSLO, NORWAY (NOVEMBER 18, 2019) – Norwegian Air, the World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline and proud UNICEF partner, made history today transporting the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child stored in synthetic DNA, a world-first, to the Arctic World Archive in Svalbard, Norway. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of this ground-breaking human rights treaty, the document will be kept in permafrost for safekeeping for generations to come.

Norwegian’s historic flight, DY396, was staffed with a dedicated crew who have participated in previous UNICEF emergency aid flights to provide life-saving supplies through the company’s Fill-A-Plane initiative. Crew involved included Sissel Maria Finnseth (Captain),Beate Vinkler Rasmussen (Cabin Chief), Nils Potesta (First Officer), Panuvit Salarim, Marta Garcia and Patryk Szwaracki.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this historical flight. The rights of children are paramount and must be protected,” said Beate Vinkler Rasmussen, who participated in Norwegian’s 2018 humanitarian aid flight to Chad, and also ran the New York Marathon for UNICEF with Norwegian last year.

“It is fantastic that we can contribute to putting children’s rights in focus with a flight like this. UNICEF is our most important partner and we will continue to do everything we can to provide children with the future they deserve,” said Sissel Maria Finnseth, who was also Captain on last year’s flight to Chad.

“We have always been proud of our partnership with Norwegian. Their contribution has been critical to transport the DNA safely to Svalbard. Additionally, Norwegian’s employees are always extremely committed and dedicated, which makes it a great pleasure to work together,” says Camilla Viken, UNICEF Norway’s Secretary General.

The project, led by UNICEF Norway, honors the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ensures that the content will be available for future generations. On World Children's Day, November 20th, the DNA capsule will be archived in the Arctic World Archive for safeguarding. The vault is a collaboration between Piql, which specializes in the storage and preservation of digital data, and Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani, a state-owned Norwegian mining company.

By using synthetic DNA storage, the U.N. treaty document protecting children’s rights will be safe and secure from natural and man-made disasters as well as endure through technological advances in digital storage. Documents and media stored digitally, for example, on floppy disks, CDs, USB sticks will quickly become outdated and difficult to retrieve data, while synthetic DNA storage will stand the test of time.

“Today it can actually be easier to retrieve information from prehistoric remains than from an old mobile phone. Storing digital data in synthetic DNA is like coding on ordinary computers; it's just another language. It's a bit like translating from one language to another,” said Nick Goldman, Senior Scientist at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Cambridge, UK.

For over a decade, Norwegian’s partnership with UNICEF has generated over $3 million from inflight donations and the airline has helped over 100,000 children around the world with emergency aid to date. Since 2014, the partners have carried out five humanitarian flights, bringing tons of life-saving supplies to the Central African Republic; the world’s second-largest refugee camp, Za’atari in Jordan; Mali; to Djibouti for relief to Yemen; and last year, to Chad. Recently, for the second year, Norwegian Air employees joined the New York City Marathon to raise additional funds for UNICEF.

About Norwegian
Norwegian is the world’s fifth largest low-cost airline and carried over 37 million passengers in 2018. The airline operates around 500 routes to over 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Thailand, North and South America. Norwegian has a fleet of around 170 aircraft, with an average age of 3.8 years, making it one of the world’s youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets.

Norwegian has been named the Most Fuel-Efficient Airline on Transatlantic Routes by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) twice. Norwegian has been voted ‘Europe’s Best Low-Cost Airline’ by passengers for six consecutive years at the SkyTrax World Airline Awards 2013-2019, along with being named the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul’ Airline’ for the past five years. Norwegian employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.

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