Keflavík International Airport
|Keflavík International Airport
|IATA: KEF – ICAO: BIKF|
|Serves||Greater Reykjavík Area, Iceland|
|Elevation AMSL||52 m / 171 ft|
|Statistics (2015 (passengers), 2012 (cargo))|
Keflavík International Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvöllur) (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. It is widely used for transatlantic routes. Typically flights from airports north of the Alps fly to Keflavík, then to Gander International Airport or Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Canada, then on to North American airports. This is especially true for aircraft with fuel tanks too small for non-stop flights. In general the airport is used in this manner more for westbound flights than for eastbound, as the strong winds at cruise altitudes around 35,000 feet normally are eastbound. The airport is 1.7 nautical miles (3.1 km; 2.0 mi) west of Keflavík and 50 km (31 mi) southwest of Reykjavík. The airport has three runways, two of which are in use, and the airport area is about 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi). Most international journeys to or from Iceland pass through this airport.
The main carriers at Keflavík are Icelandair and WOW air, each of which has the airport as its main hub. The airport is almost exclusively used for international flights; most domestic flights use Reykjavík Airport, which lies 3 km (1.9 mi) from Reykjavík's city centre, although seasonal flights from Akureyri fly to Keflavík. Keflavík Airport is operated by Isavia, a government enterprise.
The airport was built by the United States military in World War II. The U.S. Army Air Forces desired an airfield at Keflavík capable of operating heavy bombers, in addition to a fighter strip. Funds were allocated in January 1942 and construction began on the fighter strip (known as Patterson Field) in May. Two runways of the fighter field were in use by July when Operation Bolero commenced. The bomber field, known as Meeks Field, was begun in July by military and civilian contractor crews, but the civilian contractor was soon relieved by the newly formed U.S. Navy construction battalions Seabees. Meek Field[clarification needed] was dedicated on 23 March 1943 and by May stopover service for transatlantic military flights was in operation.
During the war the airport complex only served military purposes, but at war's end it became a refueling stop for the quickly developing international civil aviation crossing the Atlantic. At the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1947, the airport was handed over to Iceland and renamed Keflavík Airport. The Airport was operated jointly by Iceland and the United States for transiting civil and military flights. U.S. forces returned to Keflavík in 1951 under the auspices of NATO (see Naval Air Station Keflavik) and joint operation continued until 30 September 2006, when the military installation was handed over to the government of Iceland.
Development since the 1950s
With the re-construction of the military base at Keflavík during the 1950s, the air terminal found itself positioned in the middle of the base. International travelers thus had to enter military check points to reach their flights for most of the time, which gave the feeling that the U.S. military controlled access to and from Iceland. This continued until 1987 when the civilian terminal was relocated.
The presence of foreign military forces in Iceland under the NATO sponsored Iceland–U.S. Defense Agreement of 1951 was a controversial issue in Iceland, which had no indigenous military forces other than the Coast Guard. 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 km (31 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.
The former Agreed Military Area at Keflavík was re-designated "Airport, Security and Development Area" under the supervision of the Keflavík International Airport Ltd. (established 1 January 2009), the Icelandic Coast Guard and the Keflavík Airport Development Corporation (Kadeco), respectively. The Coast Guard maintains hangars for military aircraft as well as ammunition depots, air defence radars and other military equipment for national defence. The former military encampment area (U.S. Naval Air Station Keflavik) being developed by Kadeco has been named Ásbrú to reflect its new role. The airport is in the little village named Sandgerði, but the runway leads to Keflavík.
The 10,000-foot-long (3,000 m) and 200-foot-wide (61 m) runways are long enough to support NASA's Space Shuttle and also the Antonov An-225. On 29 June 1999, Concorde G-BOAA flew from Heathrow Airport to Reykjavík (Keflavík airport). Concorde has been there earlier.
The Airport is named after Leifur Eiríksson who was the first European to discover North America. Air Terminal (Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar), named for Leif Ericson.[clarification needed] It was opened 6 April 1987 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.
Airlines and destinations
Although the population of Iceland is only about 300,000, there are scheduled flights to and from twelve (soon to be fourteen) locations in the United States (Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Orlando, Portland, Seattle, Washington, and soon Los Angeles and San Francisco), four (soon to be five) in Canada (Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, and soon Montreal) and 31 cities across Europe. The largest carrier operating out of Keflavík is Icelandair. On 23 October 2012 WOW air acquired Iceland Express making it the second largest Icelandic carrier and the second largest at Keflavík. The airport only handles international flights (except for flights to Akureyri in connection with certain Air Iceland flights to Greenland); domestic flights and flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands are operated from Reykjavík's domestic airport. When changing between these two airports, a 50 km (31 mi) bus transfer is usually needed, and at least three hours time between flights is recommended.
|3||London, United Kingdom|
|4||New York, United States of America|
|6||Boston, United States of America|
|9||Seattle/Tacoma, United States of America|
Transport between the airport and Reykjavik city is by road only. The distance is 50 km. A new dual carriageway road (route 41) was opened in 2008. Public transport is operated by Iceland Excursions' Airport Express and Reykjavik Excursions Kynnisferðir's Flybus services. They both have a timetable adapted to the arrival and departing flights' schedule. They go to and from the Reykjavik bus terminal, taking around 45 minutes. Both companies offer a stop at the domestic airport and also provide direct stops at major hotels and hostels in the Reykjavik area through their shuttle service on request. Taxis are available outside the terminal. Rental cars are also available.
Accidents and incidents
- On 21 July 2013, a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner, prototype aircraft 97005, made a belly landing during a test flight. The cause of the belly landing is currently being investigated by the authorities.
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- [dead link]
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- Icelandair Adds Flights to Paris Orly Airport
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- "Airportal". Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "WOW air extiende la ruta entre Alicante-Elche y Reykjavík (Keflavík) durante la Temporada de Invierno 2015-2016" (Press release). Foroblog of Alicante-Elche Airport. 22 January 2015.
- Capital Gazette (20 January 2015). "WOW airline expands service at BWI". capitalgazette.com. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
- "Wow Air Adds Frankfurt Service from June 2016". Airlineroute.net.
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- "Wow Air to Start Stockholm Vasteras Service from May 2016". Airlineroute.net.
- "Wow Air Adds Nice Service in S16". Airlineroute.net.
- "Accident: Sukhoi SU95 at Keflavik on Jul 21st 2013, belly landing". Avherald.com.
Media related to Keflavík International Airport at Wikimedia Commons