Work Begins On Keflavik Airport Expansion In Iceland

Work has begun on expanding Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF) in a bid to make it a major North Atlantic air traffic hub. Iceland knows that successful international airports play a vital role in a country’s economy by providing an essential link to the rest of the world.

The terminal addition should be completed in 2024. Photo: Isavia

By better connecting Iceland to the rest of the world, it builds a bridge to help promote business, cultural exchange, and education. Iceland understands that connectivity is vital to the well-being of individuals and societies globally. Its strategic position between two continents offers the opportunity to develop the airport into a significant international hub, thereby providing future growth and opportunities for Icelanders.

The plan aims to increase capacity

After years of planning, Iceland’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Bjarni Benediktsson, formally broke ground last month for a new 20,000 square meter (215,278 sqft) addition to the Leif Eiríksson Air Terminal. Construction work on the building has now started and is expected to be underway until 2024.

Iceland estimates that the expansion of the existing terminal will cost ISK 20.8bn ($17 million). The country sees the project as part of an overall plan to increase the airport’s capacity to handle 14.5 million passengers a year by 2040. An agreement has been reached with leading Icelandic contractor Ístak for the work to commence on the east side of the current terminal.

An economic boost for Iceland

When speaking about it in a statement published by the national airport and air navigation service provider of Iceland Isavia, Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson said:

“It is very enjoyable to see this project become a reality. Our decision this past winter to increase the share capital in Isavia sends a clear message that despite temporary circumstances during the present pandemic, we know that there is a bright future ahead. The increase in share capital facilitates important improvements at Keflavík Airport.

“Further, it strengthens us regarding international competitiveness for passengers looking forward to traveling again after the pandemic. At the same time, this excellent project is a welcome injection of funds into the Icelandic economy. Numerous new jobs will be created, not least in Suðurnes, and this superb area will now rise up again after these temporary doldrums during the pandemic.”

The construction injects funds into the Icelandic economy. Photo: Isavia

When speaking about the milestone in the statement, the CEO of Isavia,
Sveinbjörn Indriðason, said:

“An air terminal is a complicated infrastructure. A number of aspects must be coordinated to ensure that everything works together.” Adding “This new east building will revolutionize baggage handling and add considerable retail space on the upper floor as well as enlarge the waiting area. In addition, four new gates with passenger boarding bridges will be added, which is an enormous step toward improving services to aircraft operators and passengers.

“The increase in share capital was a vital aspect in enabling us to extend the scope of previously planned construction and ensured that we fast-track a number of project components. This will be of great advantage in the future.”

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High-speed connecting Reykjavik

Together with the expansion of the terminal, the master plan first published in 2015 includes improvements to the runways, apron, and technical services areas. A new 2,500 meter (8,202 feet) runway and a taxiway are to be built alongside the existing RWY 02/20 to provide independent parallel operations. The plan also calls for a satellite fire rescue station on the east end of the apron.

Stockholm's Arlanda Express
Iceland will use Stockholm’s Arlanda Express for inspiration. Photo: Freddy2001 via Wikipedia

A massive passenger improvement will come in a high-speed rail connection between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik city center. The terminus of the railway line is anticipated to be situated at the north side of the new terminal.

Despite the setbacks brought about by the pandemic, it’s nice to see Iceland looking towards the future.

What do you think about Keflavik Airport’s expansion? Please tell us what you think in the comments.