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Court Orders Runway Closure

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Court Orders Runway Closure

Reykjavík domestic airport

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

The Reykjavík District Court has ordered the Ministry of the Interior, on behalf of the State, to close the northeast-southwest runway at Reykjavík Airport within 16 weeks, and to re-examine planning rules for the airport in accordance with the runway closure.

If the runway is not shut within the allotted time, the court ruling demands that the State would be fined ISK 1 million (EUR 7,000/USD 8,000) per day until it complies. The runway in question is also referred to as the emergency runway.

The case was brought against the State by the City of Reykjavík and the court agreed with most of the City’s arguments. The City claimed that a document signed in 2013 between the then-interior minister, Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, and the then-mayor, Jón Gnarr, constituted a binding promise by Hanna Birna to close the runway.

The court ruled that Hanna Birna was legally able to make such a promise about changes at the domestic airport and that the State is therefore bound to reduce the airport’s physical footprint.

According to the court ruling, there is no precedent or law in place that says a minister must seek the approval of Alþingi, or any other body, before making this sort of decision, Vísir reports.

The Icelandic State was also ordered to pay the City of Reykjavík ISK 2 million in legal costs.

Current Mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson, told reporters the ruling is an important one for the city and that the most important thing is that the ruling should stand.

A statement from the office of Minister for the Interior Ólöf Nordal says that the minister has not yet had the chance to read the ruling properly and it has not yet been decided whether or not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Iceland.

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