Iceland’s Keflavik Airport keeps expanding

By Iceland Monitor - May 3, 2017
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Sign pointing to gates and the service desk in Icelandic and English at Keflavik International Airport outside of Reykjavik, Iceland. (Getty)
Sign pointing to gates and the service desk in Icelandic and English at Keflavik International Airport outside of Reykjavik, Iceland. (Getty)

Keflavik international Airport has been expanded many times since it was built in 1987 and is today three times bigger than it was back then. Many thought the original size was outrageously ambitious.

In the beginning it was 22,000 square meters and 748,774 passengers went through the airport in a year. Today it is 73,000 square meters and estimated passengers going through the airport in 2017 are 8,748,875. Back then two airlines offered flies to and from Keflavik Airport; now there are 26.

The passengers are Icelanders going abroad, people visiting Iceland and people stopping on their way from Europe to America or the other way around.

“Icelanders have created this market, foreign low budget airlines only make up for around 20 percent of all passengers, which is very positive,” says Björn Óli Hauksson CEO of Isavia, which runs the airport on behalf of the state.

In 2017 there will be a 28 percent increase in passengers going through the airport from 2016, which seems like much, but 2016 saw a 40.3 percent increase of passengers from 2015. “Last year we saw an increase in one year most airports see in 10. If the airlines keep on growing at this rate it’s clear the airport has to get even bigger. We are building every year for billions ISK, our plans go to 2023.”

Many of the earlier plans had to be executed ahead of schedule as the growth was so rapid, according to Guðmundur Daði Rúnarsson of Isavia.

“There was a big boom, which is great as it meant increased income for the company, but inevitably created some problems for the airport. The growth was so rapid it was hard to keep up. It was a challenge. We’ve been building constantly now for nearly five years, but people don’t seem to notice how much has being built, because the new additions to the airport filled up immediately.”

A new 7,000-square-meter addition to the airport will soon be finished. Parts of it open in June and with that the airport will be better prepared for the amount of passengers going through it, according to Hauksson.