Concerns grow over the cost for one of three planned Greenland airport projects

All of the bids received for construction of an airport in Qaqortoq would have put the project over budget.

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Qaqortoq Airport, shown here in an artist’s rendition, remains on the drawing board, but key details may be changed in the final picture. (Kalaallit Airports)

Planned construction of a regional airport in Qaqortoq, in southern Greenland, is facing further delays after a second bidding round in which all of the offers received by the firm that will operate the facility again exceeded the project’s budget.

A contractor to build the runway, terminal and other structures at the Qaqortoq airport was originally to have been chosen in May of 2020. After an initial delay, selection was postponed in September pending a new call for bids when it emerged that all of the offers received by Kalaallit Airports would have put the project over its 570 million kroner ($90 million) budget.

According to reports by local news outlets, the lowest offer received by Kalaallit Airports in the second call for bids was more than double what Inatsisartut, the national assembly, set aside in 2018 for the airport’s construction as part of a 3.6 billion kroner airport construction plan that is the country’s largest-ever public investment.

In addition to the airport in Qaqortoq, the plan also calls for upgrades to existing airports in the capital Nuuk and in Ilulissat, a major travel destination. Work is already underway at both sites, though additional funding may be required for their completion.

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Once all three airports are finished, they would form the cornerstone of a long-term effort to revamp the Greenland’s network of airports and helipads, many of which were built to serve the U.S. military during the Second World War.

The plan for Qaqortoq airport currently calls for construction of a 1,499-meter runway, which make it long enough for regional airplanes that can reach Greenland from other countries to land there.

A shorter runway would require fewer buildings and reduce the cost, but it would likely mean that the only commercial planes using the airport would originate from one of Greenland’s other airports.

Although a shorter runway was mooted last year, both the cost and the scope of the project were unchanged in the second call for bids.

Greenland’s Self-Rule Authority is expected to make an announcement about the airport’s future at the end of this week, according to broadcaster KNR.