Most in Iceland Want to Keep Reykjavík Airport

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Most in Iceland Want to Keep Reykjavík Airport

By Alëx Elliott
Reykjavík domestic airport

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

80.7 percent of Icelanders want the Reykjavík Domestic Airport to stay where it is now, in walking distance to the city center.

A recent survey by MMR, conducted for an organization called The Heart in Vatnsmýri (where the current airport is located), indicated that 71.2 percent of Reykjavík residents want the airport to stay where it is, and 80.7 percent of the nation overall.

A statement from The Heart in Vatnsmýri says that support for the current airport is unsurprisingly strong nationwide, but interestingly also very strong in Reykjavík itself.

“Seven out of ten city dwellers want the airport to stay, despite the unwavering intent of a majority of the city council to move the airport away, with the Social Democrats taking the lead.”

67.7 percent of Social Democrat voters want the airport to stay where it is in Vatnsmýri, including 57.7 percent of their voters who live in Reykjavík, according to the MMR poll, reported by Vísir.is.

“Never before has a majority of the city council gone against such a larch proportion of their citizens on any issue and it is now time for the council to give up its opposition to the airport and listen to its employers, the citizens of the city, and the whole country,” the statement says.

Arguments for moving the airport include that it occupies a huge amount of valuable land in the city center that could be built on, instead of expanding the city further and further afield in far off suburbs like Úlfársdalur. An expanded city center would provide massive new opportunities, supporters say. There are also concerns about noise and safety as planes need to fly very low over the center of the capital in order to land and take off.

Opponents counter that no better site for the airport has yet been found and that moving domestic flights to Keflavík would severely hinder access to the capital city for all the Icelanders who do not live there. For example, the driving time to Reykjavík from Akureyri is four hours. By comparison, the flying time is 45 minutes and landing in central Reykjavík clearly makes this convenient. Adding to that possibly an hour to negotiate the much bigger Keflavík terminal and waiting for a coach, and the 45 minute coach journey would make flying a lot less attractive – especially factoring in the extra cost.

Building a whole new airport within city limits would be extremely expensive. Many people outside of Reykjavík say that maintaining easy access to domestic flights is one of the most important things making Reykjavík the capital city for all in Iceland. It is also claimed that lives could be put at risk by moving the airport which receives emergency medical flights further away from the hospital.

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