Does Iceland Need A New Airport? Icelandair Thinks So

Icelandair has proposed the country build a new super airport, one that can handle both international and domestic travel needs for the island nation.

Icelandair
Icelandair believes that Iceland’s future needs a new airport. Photo: PXhere

What are the details?

Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, currently has two airports. Reykjavik Keflavik International airport serves as the hub for flag carrier Icelandair as well as all international routes in and out of the country (and might be home to a reborn WOW / PLAY Airlines someday soon).

The second much smaller airport is Reykavik Domestic Airport near the city center.

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According to CH-Aviation, Icelandair’s issue here is that the main international airport is 50 km away from the city center, and it takes its passengers transferring between international flights and domestic flights around two hours to clear customs, collect bags and recheck in.

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Iceland
Aerial photograph of Keflavík International Airport. Photo: SuperJet International via Wikipedia

What are the solutions?

The first idea is to shift all domestic air traffic to the bigger Reykjavik Keflavik International airport. On paper, this has all the right advantages, such as giving passengers an easier way to transfer without having to go back through security and facilitating combined maintenance for airlines (Icelandair and its domestic airline, Air Iceland Connect would win on this front).

But for all its simplicity there is a problem… it would overwhelm the capacity at Keflavik International. There are simply not enough slots or gates for the airport to operate both international and domestic flights.

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Thus, Icelandair proposed in a report last December that they build a new airport!

This new ‘super airport’ would be located southwest of the island towards Hvassahraun. The additional resources needed to run the new airport would come from the old domestic airport, which would be closed. That land could then be redeveloped.

A new airport would also take into account increased passengers flying to Iceland over the next 30 to 40 years. The current international airport saw 8.9 million passengers last year.

Icelandair
Icelandair could not base international and domestic operations at the same airport. Photo: Sunnya343 via Wikipedia

How much would this new airport cost?

Now for the actual numbers.

The new international airport would take just over 10 years to build and cost $2.43 billion USD (ISK 300 billion Kronur).

Helping the case is a feasibility study being undertaken by the city of Reykjavík and the Icelandic government, to study weather patterns and flight conditions in Hvassahraun (site of the possible new airport) over the next two years. This study is expected to cost around $1.6 million USD (ISK 200 million Kronur) equally supplied by each government involved.

Whether or not the project will go ahead depends on the outcome of this report.

“We have seen that Keflavik Airport, with its structure, has been able to handle 19 million passengers. But if we aim for 30 to 35 million passengers in 30 to 40 years, then maybe within ten years we need to decide what happens. Then Hvassahraun would come in handy,” Transport Minister Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson reportedly commented at the time to CH-Aviation.

Simple Flying reached out to Icelandair but at the time of publication, it had yet to respond. We will update the article with its thoughts.

What do you think? Does Iceland need a new airport? Let us know in the comments.

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Adam Simmons

You’re kidding, right? In 2018, LGW recorded just under 284,000 movements on one runway and KEF couldn’t manage 160,000 movements on two? The 160,000 is the sum of movements at KEF and the domestic airport in 2018.

Cina Ahpek

Perhaps what is needed is for the authorities to look at how to better manage the existing resources, and perhaps add more facilities in the same airport, instead of building a new one at considerable cost. It does not take a genius to think that would save a lot of money. @Adam Simmons already mentioned that as LGW could manage 284,000 movements with just one runway, therefore, KEF should be able to manage 160,000 (and maybe even more) movements with two runways. They could learn from other airports like LGW. As for the shortage of gates, maybe they could just… Read more »

Ken Cave

This airport is lots of fun when one has to board outside in the rain and snow-especially if you are handicapped!!
Also, why do Iceland Air let its passengers line up to board sometime hours
before the flight!!??!!

Trent

Flew to Iceland last year and KEF was the busiest airport I have ever been in. Not in sheer number of people, but just in utter chaos.

Great country though! Can’t wait to go back!

Steve

Something needs to be done with Keflavik. It’s one of the worst airports I’ve ever been through.

Michael Mitchell

Am I correct, a third airport for a nation of 250,000+ people? Close the in-town airport and consolidate all the operations at the international, then use the savings to build an express link to the city center. Iceland needs to make stopping over in their country more affordable. I went to Finland and wanted to stop in Iceland, but the cost was outrageous! Take a lesson from the Caribbean nations.

Grunde Avharstveit

If you build the airplane hangars, check in, and departure/arrival hall(s) under ground, it will allow more freedom for the landing/takeoff lines more space. Also utilizing the geothermal energy easier.
A few hotels with outdoor spas would also fit perfectly in. Two or three million tourists plus, more immigration sure will expand the need of a far better airport than today.