Scandinavian Airlines medevac plane lands in Malaysian island where Norwegian king is hospitalized

LANGKAWI, Malaysia (AP) — A Scandinavian Airlines medical evacuation plane arrived on Friday in Malaysia's northern resort island of Langkawi, where the Norwegian king is in hospital and being treated for an infection.

King Harald V, Europe's oldest monarch at 87, was hospitalized after he fell ill during a vacation, the royal palace in Oslo announced on Tuesday. There were no details of his illness. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, has said his father's condition was improving and that he needed rest before being brought back.

Norwegian TV2 said that a Scandinavian aircraft with the tail number LN-RPJ took off from Oslo Airport on Thursday, The Boeing 737-700 airline, which has previously been used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday.

The Norwegian Defense Force reportedly declined to confirm if the plane will pick up King Harald. Norwegian TV2 said the same aircraft was used last summer for the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine.

King Harald V, Europe’s oldest monarch at 87, was hospitalized after he fell ill during a vacation, the royal palace in Oslo announced on Tuesday. There were no details of his illness. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, has said his father’s condition was improving and that he needed rest before being brought back.

Norwegian TV2 said that a Scandinavian aircraft with the tail number LN-RPJ took off from Oslo Airport on Thursday, The Boeing 737-700 airline, which has previously been used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday.

The Norwegian Defense Force has declined to confirm if the plane will pick up King Harald. Norwegian TV2 said the same aircraft was used last summer for the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine.

The royal palace in Oslo said late Thursday that ”the aim is that the king can return home by plane in a few days” but did not say when that would be.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama has reported that Harald was undergoing treatment at the Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi. It cited unnamed sources as saying he was staying in the hospital’s Royal Suite. The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Prince Haakon said Wednesday the king was in good spirits.

“It is clear that his age means that it is good to treat this properly. They are very good at the hospital,” Haakon told Norwegian reporters. “We don’t know when he will come home. We will have to decide on that later.” The palace said that “no decision has been made regarding his return home.”

Earlier, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that “we get worried when our king gets ill and is admitted to hospital, whether in Norway or abroad.”

“We should do what we can to contribute to getting the king home as quickly as possible and as healthy as possible,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Two days before his birthday last week, Norwegian news agency NTB said that the king would be undertaking a private trip abroad together with his wife Queen Sonja, without specifying the destination or dates.

Media in Norway have reported that Harald traveled to Malaysia to celebrate his 87th birthday.

In the past, the Norwegian king has traveled privately in connection with his birthdays. When he turned 80, he and his family traveled to South Africa and they were on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to mark his 85th birthday, media in Norway reported.

The monarch, who has been seen using crutches in recent years, has been repeatedly ill in recent months, raising concern about the head of state’s health. In January, the palace said he was on sick leave until Feb. 2 because of a respiratory infection.

In December, he was admitted to a hospital with an infection and was treated with intravenous antibiotics. He also was hospitalized last August with a fever.

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Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

Vincent Thian And Eileen Ng, The Associated Press