Air Greenland’s Epic Eight Hour Dash 8 Flight

If you’ve ever fancied flying on a turboprop for a really long time, Air Greenland has just the flight for you. In a bid to maintain connectivity with the European continent, the airline has established an air bridge between Nuuk in Greenland and Copenhagen in Denmark, to be operated once every couple of days. The flight, taking over seven hours in total, is operated by a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 turboprop.

Air Greenland Dash 8
Air Greenland is operating a regular seven- to eight-hour service with a Dash 8-200. Photo: Pixabay

A vital air bridge

Greenland was one of the last remaining places in the world to be coronavirus free. However, earlier this week the nation declared four confirmed cases among the population. In a bid to protect its citizens, Greenland had suspended all flights to the Arctic island from the 20th March for two weeks.

This saw domestic flights, as well as longer international routes, suspended, cutting vital connectivity between the island’s remote communities. As a semi-autonomous Danish territory, Greenland’s links with Denmark are equally as important, but with both Greenland and Denmark closing their borders, there seems to be no other way.

However, under pressure from governments and passengers alike, the airline decided to step in and form an air bridge between Greenland and Denmark, flying from the capital city of Nuuk to Denmark’s own capital, Copenhagen. This is despite all other commercial flights being canceled.

Air Greenland Dash 8
The flights are likely to be repatriation flights and for essential cargo transport. Photo: Air Greenland

The flights are presumed to be a means of repatriating travelers from either country stranded in the other. They operate by way of Reykjavik in Iceland, although it’s not clear whether they pick up passengers here or simply stop to refuel. What’s more, the seven-hour plus journey is operated by one of the industry’s smaller aircraft – a Dash 8-200 turboprop.

Air Greenland’s epic turboprop journey

The first flight scheduled on this unusual route took place on the 22nd of March. Flying under flight number GL6780, the aircraft departed Nuuk (GOH) at just before 07:00 in the morning. After slightly more than three hours in the air, it landed at 13:04 local time in Reykjavik (KEF).

Nuuk to KEF
The first hop, just over three hours long, takes the little Dash from Nuuk to Rekjavik in Iceland. Photo: FlightRadar24

Having spent around an hour on the ground, it again departed the airport at 14:18 local time. Flying for four hours and 11 minutes, it finally touched down in Copenhagen (CPH) at 15:28 local time. The total time of the two segments was seven hours and 15 minutes.

Onwards from KEF to CPH takes just over four hours. Photo: FlightRadar24

The return flight took place a day later, on the 23rd of March. The little Dash 8 took off at 09:40 from Copenhagen, arriving into Keflavik Airport at 13:38 local. This time it was only on the ground for just over half an hour, before departing for Nuuk at 14:15. It landed back in Greenland at 17:17, a total trip time of dead on eight hours.

The aircraft used for this first flight rotation was OY-GRO. According to Planespotters, this is a 23.2-year-old DHC Dash 8-200, seating just 37 passengers in an all-economy layout.

Why is Air Greenland flying this route?

Air Greenland provides vital connectivity for its community, something which is much needed in the Arctic environment in which they live. Its political and economic ties to Denmark are too strong to just break off, with both passenger and cargo movements vital for the island.

However, with very low passenger demand right now, there’s little sense in putting anything any bigger than a Dash 8-200 on the route. Not that Air Greenland has anything any bigger. Its fleet is mostly made up of seven Dash 8-200s along with one A330-200. Putting the widebody on this route, even though it would mean it could be completed without the stop, would be far less economical than flying with the small, fuel conservative Dash.

Air Greenland A330
Air Greenland has only one large aircraft – the A330-200. Photo: Visit Greenland via Flickr

Chances are, most of these flights are carrying little but cargo and supplies to the island. But for those stranded in Europe or needing to get to Greenland for other reasons, it’s also providing a vital link that would otherwise be completely lost during these uncertain times.

More flights are scheduled over the coming weeks, flying outward on flight numbers GL6572, 6575 and 6780. Return flights are operating on flight numbers GL6575, GL6576 and GL6779.

Would you fancy a seven- or eight-hour flight on a Dash 8? Let us know in the comments.