Established in 1987 as a joint venture between the Faroe Islands government and a Danish airline called Cimber Air, Atlantic Airways became fully government-owned in 1989. With a population of just 50,000 people spread over 18 tiny islands that experience challenging weather conditions for most of the year, on paper, it’s hard to see how an airline could survive.
Add to this a difficult topography and a short runway that was constructed by the British Army during World War II and you can see the challenges Atlantic Airways faced.
Atlantic Airways’ first flight was between the Faroe Islands and Denmark
The first aircraft acquired by Atlantic Airways was a British Aerospace BAe 146 that the airline flew from Vágar Airport to the Danish capital Copenhagen on March 28th,1988. The airline then survived through a massive economic downturn in the early 1990s that required a bailout from the government.
Having weathered the storm, Atlantic Airways started flying to more countries that included not only Denmark, but also Norway, Iceland, and the United Kingdom.
The big turning point in the airline’s history followed an extension of the runway at Vágar Airport in 2011 from 1,250 m (4,100 ft) to 1,799 m (5,902 ft). This now meant that Atlantic Airways would be able to operate larger, more fuel-efficient aircraft, like the Airbus A319.
Today, Atlantic Airways still has one A319 together with an Airbus A320 and an Airbus A320neo that it operates on several longer European routes like Barcelona and Mallorca during the summer. Having generated a net profit of DKr16.2 million ($2.4 million) in 2018 and the same figures expected for 2019, Atlantic Airways is looking to expand with flights to the United States.
The Faroe Islands are tuning to tourism
Other than its fishing industry, which produces 90% of the Faroe Islands GDP, the self-governing autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark is increasingly looking at tourism to provide income and jobs.
With the Faroe Islands government owning Atlantic Airways, we can expect to see more seasonal routes like the new London Gatwick service that was just announced last week.
The Faroese airline previously used to offer a non-stop flight between London Stansted (STN) and Vágar Airport (FAE), but this was discontinued in 2014. Now rather than Stansted, Atlantic Airways will fly once a week on a Tuesday between Vágar and London Gatwick Airport (LGW).
The flight will commence on Tuesday, June 23rd and will run until August 11th with one-way fares starting at just £85 ($109) for the two hours ten-minute flight.
Currently, Atlantic Airways offer a daily direct service between the Faroe Islands and Copenhagen, Denmark, and a twice-weekly service to Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Faroe Islands are well worth a visit
When talking about the new London Gatwick flight Breaking Travel News quotes the man in charge of promoting the Faroe Islands, Guðrið Højgaard, as saying:
“We’re really pleased to hear that Atlantic Airways will be starting to fly directly from London again this summer. “With steady growth in visitor numbers to the Faroe Islands – around ten percent last year – there is certainly demand for a London flight. “We look forward to welcoming more visitors who enjoy remote destinations, bird watching, sailing, hiking, rappelling, photography and other low-impact ways of exploring their way around our beautiful islands this year.”
Chief executive of Atlantic Airways Jóhanna á Bergi, added:
“We’re so excited to again be able to offer a direct flight from London to the Faroe Islands – not only does this make our beautiful islands more accessible to travelers in and around London, but it’s also great news for travelers using Gatwick as a hub from other destinations all around the world.”
The Faroe Islands offer unsurpassed natural beauty and are worth seeing now before they become too touristy. If you do decide to take advantage of the new Gatwick service, you should try and book early as it is sure to generate plenty of interest.