Jump to content

Keflavík International Airport

Coordinates: 63°59′06″N 22°36′20″W / 63.98500°N 22.60556°W / 63.98500; -22.60556
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Keflavík Airport

Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorIsavia ohf.
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; -22.60556
KEF is located in Iceland
Location in Iceland
KEF is located in Arctic
KEF (Arctic)
KEF is located in Europe
KEF (Europe)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 3,054 10,020 Asphalt
10/28 3,065 10,056 Asphalt
Statistics (2023)
Total passengers7,776,147
Aircraft movements76.575
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 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.

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]


Airport Map

The terminal is named after Leif Erikson who was the first European to arrive in North America[11] (Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar [is], "Leif Erikson Air Terminal"). It was opened in April 1987[12] 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.[13] The expansion added seven gates.[14] There are also plans to add a third runway.[15]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Although the population of Iceland is only about 370,000, there are scheduled flights to and from numerous locations across North America and Europe. The largest carrier operating out of Keflavik is Icelandair. Play, which also uses Keflavik as a hub, is the second largest Icelandic carrier in 2022.[3] WOW Air was the second largest Icelandic carrier and the second largest at Keflavík, following its acquisition of Iceland Express on 23 October 2012,[16] until it ceased operations on 28 March 2019.[10] 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:[17]

Air Canada Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Air Greenland Nuuk
Seasonal: Ilulissat
airBaltic Riga
Atlantic Airways Vágar
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna
British Airways London–Heathrow
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK
easyJet Edinburgh, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Manchester, Milan–Malpensa, Paris–Orly (begins 3 September 2024)[18]
Seasonal: Birmingham (begins 3 December 2024),[19] Bristol
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Eurowings Seasonal: Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart[20]
Finnair Helsinki
Iberia Express Seasonal: Madrid
Icelandair[21] Alicante, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Denver, Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, Kulusuk, London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Munich, Newark, New York–JFK, Nuuk, Oslo, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Prague, Raleigh/Durham, Rome–Fiumicino, Seattle/Tacoma, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tenerife–South, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Zürich
Seasonal: Akureyri,1 Bergen, Billund, Detroit, Geneva, Gran Canaria, Halifax,[22] Hamburg, Ilulissat, Innsbruck,[23] Madrid, Milan–Malpensa, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Narsarsuaq, Nice, Orlando, Pittsburgh,[24] Portland (OR), Salzburg, Vágar, Verona
Jet2.com Seasonal: Belfast–International, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
Lufthansa Frankfurt
Seasonal: Munich
Neos Seasonal: Alicante, Málaga, Tenerife–South, Verona
Norwegian Air Shuttle[25] Seasonal: Oslo
Play Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamilton (ON), Lisbon, London–Stansted, Madrid, Málaga, Newburgh, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Tenerife–South, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Billund, Bologna, Brussels, Cardiff (begins 10 October 2024),[26] Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Fuerteventura, Funchal (begins 15 October 2024),[27] Geneva, Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Hamburg, Liverpool, Marrakesh (begins 17 October 2024),[27] Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Prague, Salzburg, Split,[28] Stockholm–Arlanda, Venice, Verona, Vilnius,[29] Warsaw–Chopin
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo
Transavia Amsterdam, Paris–Orly
TUI Airways Seasonal: Bristol, London–Gatwick, Manchester
United Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Newark[30]
Vueling Barcelona
WestJet Calgary[31]
Wizz Air Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino, Vienna, Warsaw–Chopin
Seasonal: London–Luton

^1 Icelandair's service between Akureyri and Keflavík is available only to connecting passengers flying with the airline internationally.[32]


Icelandair Cargo[33] Boston,[34] Liège, Los Angeles[35][36]


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[37][38] 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%
2022 6,126,421 +182.01%
2023 7,776,147 +26.9%

Busiest destinations (from 2018 estimates)[edit]

Busiest routes to/from Keflavik (2018)[39]
Rank Airport Passengers Operator(s)
1 Denmark Copenhagen 582,199 Icelandair, Play, 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, Play
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.[40] Taxis are available outside the terminal. Rental cars are available from various companies.[41]

Accidents and incidents[edit]


  1. ^ "Vísir – Enn eitt metið slegið í fjölda farþega sem fara um Keflavíkurflugvöll". Visir.is. 14 November 2013. 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. ^ a b "Aviation Fact Profile 2022" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Cargo Statistics 2012". Kefairport.is. 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. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Read description and sources to his life and discovery in Leif Erikson
  12. ^ Saga og menning Archived 22 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Keflavik Airport website.
  13. ^ "Hugmyndir um að reisa nýja flugstöð" (in Icelandic). ruv. 19 July 2012. Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Metfjöldi farþega á Keflavíkurflugvelli í fyrra – Mikil aukning fjórða árið í röð". Isavia.is. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Hugmyndir um nýja flugbraut á Keflavíkurflugvelli" (in Icelandic). visir. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  16. ^ "WOW air acquires Iceland Express". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  17. ^ kefairport.is – Timetables retrieved 18 September 2022
  18. ^ https://centreforaviation.com/news/easyjet-to-launch-paris-orly-reykjavik-service-in-sep-2024-1251327
  19. ^ https://travelweekly.co.uk/news/air/easyjet-adds-33-routes-from-uk-to-winter-2024-25-programme
  20. ^ Liu, Jim (30 November 2023). "Eurowings NS24 Network Additions – 30NOV23". AeroRoutes.
  21. ^ "Our Flight Schedule". Icelandair.
  22. ^ "Icelandair extends network with new destinations and increased frequency". Icelandair (Press release). GlobeNewsWire. 2 November 2023.
  23. ^ "Flights to Innsbruck in Austria". Icelandair.
  24. ^ Belko, Mark (2 November 2023). "Pittsburgh International Airport to get seasonal nonstop to Iceland in May". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  25. ^ "Route map". norwegian.com.
  26. ^ McNeill, Linsey (18 April 2024). "PLAY launches half term flights from Cardiff to Iceland". Travel Gossip. Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  27. ^ a b https://www.aviation24.be/airlines/play/play-airlines-expands-service-with-weekly-flights-from-madeira-to-iceland/
  28. ^ "Iceland and Croatia connected for the first time with a regular route". AvioRadar. 17 January 2024.
  29. ^ "PLAY Schedules Regular Vilnius Service From late-May 2024". AeroRoutes. 13 February 2024. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  30. ^ Schlappig, Ben (26 October 2023). "United Airlines' Transatlantic Expansion For 2024". One Mile At A Time.
  31. ^ Liu, Jim (15 November 2023). "WestJet NS24 Long-Haul Network Expansion". AeroRoutes.
  32. ^ Liu, Jim (2 June 2023). "Icelandair Adds Reykjavik Keflavik - Akureyri Service in 4Q23". AeroRoutes. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  33. ^ icelandaircargo.com - Flight schedule retrieved 18 September 2022
  34. ^ "Flight Schedule".
  35. ^ "Icelandair's Second 767 Freighter to Allow U.S. West Coast Services | Aviation Week Network".
  36. ^ "Icelandair expands at Liege with new 767-300BCF".
  37. ^ "Passenger statisticsm". kefairport.is. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  38. ^ "2022".
  39. ^ "Database – Eurostat". ec.europa.eu. Archived from the original on 25 September 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  40. ^ "Airport Shuttle from Keflavík Airport, Iceland - Keflavík International Airport - Kefairport.com". kefairport.is. Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  41. ^ "Car Rental/Car Hire at Keflavík International Airport, Iceland - Kefairport.com". kefairport.is. Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  42. ^ "Accident: Sukhoi SU95 at Keflavik on Jul 21st 2013, belly landing". Avherald.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  43. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. March 2016. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  44. ^ "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 195078". Aviation Safety Network. 28 April 2017. Archived from the original on 30 April 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  45. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 757-256 (WL) TF-FIA Keflavík International Airport (KEF)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 11 August 2021.

External links[edit]