|Kangerlussuaq Airport (SFJ)
|IATA: SFJ – ICAO: BGSF|
|Location||Kangerlussuaq, Qeqqata, Greenland|
|Elevation AMSL||165 ft / 50 m|
Kangerlussuaq Airport (Greenlandic: Mittarfik Kangerlussuaq, Danish: Søndre Strømfjord Lufthavn) (IATA: SFJ, ICAO: BGSF) is an airport in Kangerlussuaq, a settlement in the Qeqqata municipality in central-western Greenland. Alongside Narsarsuaq Airport, it is one of only two civilian airports in Greenland large enough to handle large airliners. It is located away from the coast and hence less prone to fog and wind in comparison with other airports in Greenland. Kangerlussuaq Airport is the international hub for Air Greenland. The Kangerlussuaq area has very few inhabitants, around 500, so few passengers have their origin or destination here. Most passengers change plane.
The first airport was built here during the US occupation in 1941 under the name of Bluie West-8, later renamed Sondrestromfjord Air Base and Sondrestrom Air Base.
In the 1950s, transatlantic civilian flights began using the air base for refuelling. This use fell off in the 1960s as airliners gained greater range, but the base became the hub of Greenland air traffic.
The airport was handed over to civilian Greenlandic control in 1992.
At a late 2011 Air Greenland meeting, plans to move the main Greenland intercontinental air hub away from Kangerlussuaq were agreed upon. According to the 2011 plan three 1,199-meter airstrips will be built; a new airport at Qaqortoq, and extensions at Nuuk, and Ilulissat. New airports will probably also be built at Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit later. These planned airstrips will be too short to host intercontinental flights, and a new 1,799-meter airstrip must be built before Kangerlussuaq can be closed. The main candidates for a new intercontinental airport are presently Nuuk and Qaqortoq. Alongside Kangerlussuaq, the airports at Narsarsuaq and Kulusuk (if Tasiilaq is built) will also be closed. Generally, a number of the airstrips have been built by the US military at locations deliberately away from major settlements, partly due to the Danish policy to downplay the presence of the US military in Greenland.
Airlines and destinations
|Air Greenland||Aasiaat, Copenhagen, Ilulissat, Maniitsoq, Narsarsuaq, Nerlerit Inaat, Nuuk, Sisimiut
Summer only: Reykjavik-Domestic
Access to several research camps on the Greenland ice sheet, including the Danish field camp North GRIP and the American Summit Camp, is handled through Kangerlussuaq via the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard.
The terminal is open for 24 hours during summer. Hotel Kangerlussuaq, with a 70-room capacity and a restaurant, is located within the terminal building of the airport, providing accommodation for transferring passengers. Other amenities include a night-club and a self-service bar during daytime. Several tourism outfitters share an office in the terminal, alongside the Tourist Office.
Incidents and accidents
In 1961, a DHC-3 Otter, operated by Greenlandair crashed at emergency landing in terrain near Kangerlussuaq, because of a fire onboard. One crew member was killed. There was 2 crew and 4 passengers onboard.
In 1968, three US T-33 fighters crashed into a nearby mountain. All onboard (one per plane) survived by parachute.
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