Keflavík International Airport

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Keflavík Airport

Isavia keflavik logo.svg
SSJ100 Keflavik runways (5160518757).jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorIsavia Limited
ServesGreater Reykjavík Area, Iceland
Opened1942 (1942)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL52 m / 171 ft
Coordinates63°59′06″N 22°36′20″W / 63.98500°N 22.60556°W / 63.98500; -22.60556Coordinates: 63°59′06″N 22°36′20″W / 63.98500°N 22.60556°W / 63.98500; -22.60556
KEF/BIKF is located in Iceland
Location in Iceland
KEF/BIKF is located in Europe
KEF/BIKF (Europe)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 3,054 10,020 Asphalt
10/28 3,065 10,056 Asphalt
Statistics (2021)
Total Passengers2,171,996
Aircraft Movements67,839
Sources:[1] AIP Iceland at ICAA[2]
Statistics: Isavia Limited[3][4]

Keflavík Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvöllur [ˈcʰɛplaˌviːkʏrˌflʏɣˌvœtlʏr̥]) (IATA: KEF, ICAO: BIKF), also known as Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport, is the largest airport in Iceland and the country's main hub for international transportation. The airport is 1.7 nautical miles (3.1 kilometres) west of Keflavík[2] and 50 km (30 mi) southwest of Reykjavík. The airport has three runways, two of which are in use, and the airport area is about 25 km2 (10 sq mi).[citation needed] Most international journeys to or from Iceland pass through this airport.

The main carrier at Keflavík is Icelandair, which has the airport as its main hub. The airport is only used for international flights; all domestic flights use the much smaller Reykjavík Airport, which lies three kilometres (two miles) from Reykjavík's city centre. Keflavík Airport is operated by Isavia, a government enterprise.


Early years[edit]

Originally, the airport was built by the United States military during World War II, as a replacement for a small British landing strip at Garður to the north. It consisted of two separate two-runway airfields, built simultaneously just 4 km apart. Patterson Field in the south-east opened in 1942 despite being partly incomplete. It was named after a young pilot who died in Iceland. Meeks Field to the north-west opened on 23 March 1943. It was named after another young pilot, George Meeks, who died on the Reykjavík airfield. Patterson Field was closed after the war, but Meeks Field and the adjoining structures were returned to Iceland's control and were renamed Naval Air Station Keflavik, for the nearby town of Keflavík. In 1951, the U.S. military returned to the airport under a defence agreement between Iceland and the U.S. signed on 5 May 1951.[5]

Development since the 1950s[edit]

With the reestablishment of the military air base at Keflavík during the 1950s, the air terminal found itself in the middle of a secure military zone. Travelers had to pass through military check points to reach their flights, until 1987, when the civilian terminal was relocated.[6]

The presence of foreign military forces in Iceland under the NATO-sponsored Iceland–U.S. Defense Agreement of 1951 was controversial in Iceland, which had no indigenous military forces other than the Icelandic Coast Guard.[7] During the 1960s and 1970s, rallies were held to protest the U.S. military presence in Iceland (and in particular at Keflavík), and every year protesters walked the 50-kilometre (30 mi) road from Reykjavík to Keflavík and chanted "Ísland úr NATO, herinn burt" (literally: Iceland out of NATO, the military away). The protests were not effective. One of the participants was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who later became the first female President of Iceland.[8]

The two 3,000-metre-long (10,000 ft) and 60-metre-wide (200 ft) runways were large enough to support NASA's Space Shuttle as well as the Antonov An-225. On 29 June 1999, Concorde G-BOAA flew from Heathrow Airport to Reykjavík (Keflavik airport). The Concorde had been there earlier.[9] The airport is also an important emergency landing runway for large aircraft in transatlantic operation in the ETOPS system, which requires aircraft to always have less than a certain flight time from a suitable landing site.[10] The United States military base closed down in 2006.

The airport was used as a hub by WOW air until it ceased operations on 28 March 2019.[11]


The terminal is named after Leif Erikson who was the first European to arrive in North America[12] (Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar [is], "Leif Erikson Air Terminal"). It was opened in April 1987[13] and separated the airport's civil traffic from the military base. It was later extended with the opening of the South Building in 2001 (not a separate terminal) to comply with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement. The North Building was later enlarged and finished in 2007. The terminal has duty-free stores in the departure and arrival lounges. In 2016, the current terminal was expanded.[14] The expansion added 7 gates.[15] There are also plans to add a third runway.[16]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Although the population of Iceland is only about 350,000, there are scheduled flights to and from numerous locations across North America and Europe. The largest carrier operating out of Keflavik is Icelandair. WOW air was the second largest Icelandic carrier and the second largest at Keflavík, following its acquisition of Iceland Express on 23 October 2012,[17] until it ceased operations on 28 March 2019.[11] The airport only handles international flights; domestic flights are operated from Reykjavík's domestic airport.

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter services to and from Keflavík:[18]

Air Canada Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Air Greenland Seasonal: Ilulissat, Nuuk
airBaltic Riga
Atlantic Airways Vágar
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna (resumes 11 January 2023)[citation needed]
British Airways London–Heathrow
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK
easyJet Edinburgh, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Manchester
Seasonal: Bristol, Milan–Malpensa
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zürich
Eurowings Düsseldorf
Finnair Helsinki
Iberia Express Madrid
Icelandair[19] Alicante, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, Kulusuk,[20] London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Munich, Newark, New York–JFK, Nuuk, Oslo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Seattle/Tacoma, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tenerife–South, Toronto–Pearson, Washington–Dulles, Zürich
Seasonal: Barcelona (begins 1 April 2023),[21] Bergen, Billund, Denver, Detroit (begins 18 May 2023),[22] Geneva, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Ilulissat, Madrid, Milan–Malpensa, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Narsarsuaq,[20] Nice, Orlando, Portland (OR), Prague (begins 1 June 2023),[23] Raleigh/Durham, Rome–Fiumicino, Salzburg, Vancouver
Israir Seasonal: Tel Aviv Manchester
Seasonal: Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London–Stansted
Lübeck Air Seasonal: Lübeck
Lufthansa Frankfurt
Seasonal: Munich
Neos Seasonal: Alicante, Málaga, Tenerife–South, Verona
Norwegian Air Shuttle[24] Oslo
PLAY Alicante, Baltimore, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Copenhagen, Dublin, Liverpool, London–Stansted, Madrid, Newburgh, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Tenerife–South, Washington–Dulles (begins 26 April 2023)[25]
Seasonal: Athens (begins 2 June 2023),[26] Bologna, Brussels, Geneva (begins 21 January 2023),[27] Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Hamburg (begins 16 May 2023),[28] Lisbon, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Porto (begins 6 April 2023),[29] Prague, Salzburg, Stockholm–Arlanda (begins 31 March 2023)[30]
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo
Seasonal: Stockholm–Arlanda
Transavia Amsterdam
Seasonal: Nantes, Paris–Orly
TUI Airways Seasonal: London–Gatwick, Manchester
United Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Newark
Vueling Seasonal: Barcelona
Wizz Air Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, London–Luton, Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław


Bluebird Nordic[31] Dublin
Icelandair Cargo[32] Liège


Aerial view of the main buildings
Main waiting area
Terminal seen from platform

Annual passenger traffic at KEF airport. See Wikidata query.

Passenger numbers[edit]

Year Passengers[33] Change
2004 1,883,725
2005 2,101,679 +11.6%
2006 2,272,917 +8.1%
2007 2,429,144 +6.9%
2008 2,193,434 -9.7%
2009 1,832,944 -16.4%
2010 2,065,188 +12.7%
2011 2,474,806 +19.8%
2012 2,764,026 +11.7%
2013 3,209,848 +16.1%
2014 3,867,425 +20.5%
2015 4,855,505 +25.5%
2016 6,821,358 +40.4%
2017 8,755,352 +28.3%
2018 9,804,388 +12.0%
2019 7,247,820 -26.08%
2020 1,373,971 -81.04%
2021 2,171,996 +58.1%

Busiest destinations[edit]

Busiest routes to/from Keflavik (2018)[34]
Rank Airport Passengers Operator(s)
1 Denmark Copenhagen 582,199 Icelandair, SAS
2 United Kingdom London–Gatwick 467,032 easyJet, Icelandair, Norwegian, TUI Airways
3 Netherlands Amsterdam 449,590 Icelandair, Transavia
4 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle 443,312 Icelandair
5 United Kingdom London–Heathrow 378,029 British Airways, Icelandair
6 Germany Frankfurt 355,520 Icelandair, Lufthansa
7 United States Boston 330,792 Icelandair
8 United States Newark 327,046 Icelandair, United
9 United States New York–JFK 323,781 Delta, Icelandair
10 Norway Oslo 313,713 Icelandair, Norwegian, SAS


Transport between the airport and downtown Reykjavik is a 50-kilometre (30 mi) journey on Route 41. Buses are operated by Airport Express, Flybus, and Strætó bs to Reykjavík.[35] Taxis are available outside the terminal. Rental cars are available from various companies.[36]

A 49 km long railway, the first in Iceland, is planned to link the airport to Reykjavik in order to relieve one of the country's busiest roads. The railway will accommodate high-speed trains of up to 250 km/h, which will enable the distance to be travelled within just 18 minutes. As of October 2016, construction was to begin in 2020.[37] As of 2019, plans were still active but had not come much further than in 2016.[38]

Accidents and incidents[edit]


  1. ^ "Vísir – Enn eitt metið slegið í fjölda farþega sem fara um Keflavíkurflugvöll". Archived from the original on 16 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "BIKF – Keflavík" (PDF). Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 August 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  3. ^ "2012 Passenger Statistics". Isavia Limited. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Cargo Statistics 2012". Isavia Limited. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  5. ^ "U.S. Government Debated Secret Nuclear Deployments in Iceland". National Security Archive. George Washington University. 15 August 2016. Archived from the original on 5 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Paul (1 August 2011). Waking Up in Iceland. Bobcat Books. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-85712-446-3.
  7. ^ Kochis, Daniel; Slattery, Brian (21 June 2016). "Iceland: Outsized Importance for Transatlantic Security". The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  8. ^ Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (1997). Changing Differences: Women and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy, 1917-1994. Rutgers University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0813524498.
  9. ^ "Concorde to Iceland – The Ultimate Day Trip Trailer – Plato Video". YouTube. 21 April 2012. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  11. ^ a b "End of Operation of WOW AIR". Icelandic Transport Authority. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019. WOW AIR has ceased operation. All WOW AIR flights have been cancelled.
  12. ^ Read description and sources to his life and discovery in Leif Erikson
  13. ^ Saga og menning Archived 22 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Keflavik Airport website.
  14. ^ "Hugmyndir um að reisa nýja flugstöð" (in Icelandic). ruv. 19 July 2012. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Metfjöldi farþega á Keflavíkurflugvelli í fyrra – Mikil aukning fjórða árið í röð". Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  16. ^ "Hugmyndir um nýja flugbraut á Keflavíkurflugvelli" (in Icelandic). visir. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  17. ^ "WOW air acquires Iceland Express". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  18. ^ – Timetables retrieved 18 September 2022
  19. ^ "Our Flight Schedule 2022 | Icelandair".
  20. ^ a b "Icelandair NS23 Operation Changes – 23NOV22". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "15th North American Route Next Summer: Icelandair Adds Boeing 737 MAX Detroit Flights".
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Route map".
  25. ^ "StackPath".
  26. ^ "PLAY to fly from Athens to Iceland and USA from June 2023". 19 October 2022.
  27. ^ "Pay less, play more and fly to Iceland! | PLAY airlines".
  28. ^
  29. ^ "PLAY to Porto".
  30. ^
  31. ^ - Air Freight retrieved 18 September 2022
  32. ^ - Flight schedule retrieved 18 September 2022
  33. ^ "Passenger statisticsm". Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  34. ^ "Database – Eurostat". Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  35. ^ "Airport Shuttle from Keflavík Airport, Iceland - Keflavík International Airport -". Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  36. ^ "Car Rental/Car Hire at Keflavík International Airport, Iceland -". Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  37. ^ "Work on Iceland's new 250 km/h airport train to begin in 2020". Iceland Monitor. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  38. ^ "Airport Train Still a Possibility". Iceland Monitor. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  39. ^ "Accident: Sukhoi SU95 at Keflavik on Jul 21st 2013, belly landing". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  40. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. March 2016. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  41. ^ "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 195078". Aviation Safety Network. 28 April 2017. Archived from the original on 30 April 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  42. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 757-256 (WL) TF-FIA Keflavík International Airport (KEF)". Retrieved 11 August 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Keflavík International Airport at Wikimedia Commons