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Rapid Growth in Icelandic Aviation Sector

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Rapid Growth in Icelandic Aviation Sector

Icelandair plane

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The increase in the number of international flights to and from Iceland has been massive in recent years and it is now forecast that 10 million passengers will use Keflavík International Airport in 2030. The turning point seems to have been after the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption in 2010.

Since 2011, flight traffic at Keflavík has increased by 133 percent, RÚV reports.

When the current air terminal opened in 1987 it dealt with 750,000 passengers a year. Ten years later that had topped one million, and went up to two million by 2005. This year there are likely to be 4.8 million passenger movements.

The growth is among the fastest anywhere in Europe in recent years and, according to airport operator Isavia’s latest prediction, the number could be ten million by 2030 and 14 million in 2040.

“If we look at July and August at Keflavík International Airport, we have as many as 75 arrivals every day; 18 sky bridges to the terminal which are all in use at peak times, and up to 25,000 people going through the complex per day on the busiest days,” says deputy director of Isavia, Guðmundur Daði Rúnarsson.

Icelandic airlines Icelandair and WOW air have been developing in line with growing passenger numbers. Icelandair has enlarged its fleet from 12 planes in 2009 to 24 this year—as well as having 16 new Boeing 737 planes on order; though some of those will be used to replace older aircraft in the fleet. WOW air had four leased planes last year, six this year, and there will be nine next year, and the airline will have increased its staff numbers from about 250 up to 450.

In addition to this, foreign airlines are developing the Icelandic market at pace as well.

“For example Delta flies here over the summer, and Lufthansa is starting. British Airways plans to start here this autumn. Wizz has just started flying direct to Poland, EasyJet has of course grown massively in just a few years to and from the airport and that’s just naming a few,” Guðmundur says.

The upward trend also translates into an increase in jobs at the airport itself. According to data from the international airports’ body, around one job is created for every thousand passengers. Using that figure as a base, this year there are 4,800 direct jobs in total at Keflavík International.

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