Keflavík International Airport

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This article is about the international airport. For Reykjavík's domestic airport, see Reykjavík Airport.
Keflavík International Airport
Keflavíkurflugvöllur logo.svg
SSJ100 Keflavik runways (5160518757).jpg
Airport type Public / Military
Owner/Operator Isavia Limited
Serves Greater Reykjavík Area, Iceland
Location Sandgerði, Iceland
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 52 m / 171 ft
Coordinates 63°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
Direction Length Surface
m ft
01/19 3,054 10,020 Asphalt
11/29 3,065 10,056 Asphalt
Passengers (2016) 6.821.358
Cargo (2012) 38,986 t
Sources:[1] AIP Iceland at ICAA[2]
Statistics: Isavia Limited[3][4]

Keflavík International Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvöllur) (IATA: KEFICAO: 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 km; 2.0 mi) west of Keflavík[2] 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.


Early years[edit]

Originally, the airport was built by the United States military during World War II and opened on March 23, 1943. The U.S. named it Meeks Field after a young pilot, George Meeks, who died on the Reykjavík airfield. After the war, the airport and the base were returned to Iceland's control and were renamed for the nearby town of Keflavik. In 1951, the U.S. military returned to the airport under a defense agreement between Iceland and the U.S. signed on 5 May 1951.[5] Later, Iceland joined NATO.[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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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,[citation needed] 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)[citation needed], 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). The Concorde had been there earlier.[6] 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 distance from a suitable landing site.[7] For many two-engine aircraft this is two or three hours with malfunction in one engine, so it would have been disallowed to cross the Atlantic ocean with many two-engine aircraft if this airport didn't exist.


The terminal is named after Leif Erikson who was the first European to arrive in North America[8] (Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar (is), "Air terminal Leif Erikson"). It was opened 6 April 1987[citation needed] 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.[9] The expansion added 7 gates.[10] There are also plans to add a third runway.[11]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Although the population of Iceland is only about 300,000, there are scheduled flights to and from numerous locations across North America and Europe. The largest carrier operating out of Keflavík is Icelandair. On 23 October 2012 WOW air acquired Iceland Express[12] 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 are operated from Reykjavík's domestic airport.

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter services to and from Keflavík:[13]

Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Seasonal charter: Dublin
airBaltic Seasonal: Riga
Air Berlin Berlin–Tegel, Düsseldorf
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau (begins 24 June 2017),[14] Toronto–Pearson (begins 22 June 2017)[14]
Air Greenland Seasonal: Ilulissat, Nuuk
Air Iceland Akureyri
Seasonal: Kangerlussuaq, Narsarsuaq
Atlantic Airways Vágar
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna
British Airways London–Heathrow
Czech Airlines Seasonal: Prague
Delta Air Lines New York–JFK
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zürich
easyJet Belfast–International, Edinburgh, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Manchester
Seasonal: Bristol, London–Stansted
easyJet Switzerland Seasonal: Basel/Mulhouse, Geneva
Eurowings Seasonal: Berlin–Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart
Finnair Helsinki (begins 11 April 2017)[15][16]
Flybe Seasonal charter: Birmingham
Germania Seasonal: Bremen, Dresden (begins 28 June 2017),[17] Friedrichshafen, Nuremberg (begins 28 June 2017)[17]
Iberia Express Seasonal: Madrid
Icelandair Amsterdam, Bergen, Birmingham, Brussels, Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Copenhagen, Denver, Edmonton, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Helsinki, London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, New York–JFK, Newark, Orlando, Oslo–Gardermoen, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Paris–Orly, Seattle/Tacoma, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tampa (begins 7 September 2017),[18] Toronto–Pearson, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Anchorage, Barcelona, Billund, Geneva, Gothenburg, Halifax, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan–Malpensa, Montréal–Trudeau, Philadelphia (begins 30 May 2017),[18] Portland (OR), Stavanger, Trondheim, Vancouver, Zürich
operated by Air Iceland
Aberdeen, Belfast-City (begins 1 June 2017)[19]
Seasonal: Akureyri
Lufthansa Seasonal: Frankfurt, Munich
Niki Seasonal: Vienna
Norwegian Air Shuttle Barcelona, Madrid, Oslo–Gardermoen
Seasonal: Alicante (begins 2 June 2017),[20] Bergen, London–Gatwick
Primera Air Seasonal: Alicante, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Lisbon, Málaga, Tenerife–South, Trieste (begins 30 May 2017)[21]
Seasonal charter: Almeria, Bodrum, Chania
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen
Thomson Airways Seasonal: East Midlands, London-Gatwick, Manchester
Transavia France Seasonal: Paris–Orly
Vueling Seasonal: Barcelona, Rome–Fiumicino
Wizz Air Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice (begins 27 March 2017),[22] Prague (begins 31 May 2017),[23] Riga (begins 25 June 2017), Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław (begins 31 May 2017)
WOW air Alicante, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Berlin–Schönefeld, Bristol (ends 24 March 2017, resumes 14 June 2017),[24] Boston, Brussels (begins 2 June 2017), Copenhagen, Cork (begins 19 May 2017),[25] Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Gran Canaria, London–Gatwick, Los Angeles, Miami (begins 5 April 2017),[26] Montréal–Trudeau, Newark, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Pittsburgh (begins 16 June 2017),[27] San Francisco, Stockholm-Arlanda, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion (begins 22 June 2017), [28] Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Barcelona, Düsseldorf, Lyon, Milan–Malpensa, Rome–Fiumicino, Salzburg, Tenerife–South, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin


Airlines Destinations
Air Atlanta Icelandic Bagram, Frankfurt, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Luxembourg
ASL Airlines Belgium Liège, New York–JFK
Atlas Air Astana, Fargo, Shymkent
Bluebird Cargo Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Moncton
Icelandair Cargo East Midlands, Liège, Humberside, New York–JFK
UPS Airlines
operated by Bluebird Cargo
Cologne/Bonn, Edinburgh, Moncton


Busiest destinations[edit]

Departure area
Passenger terminal exterior
Busiest destinations from Keflavík (2015)[29]
Rank Airport Passengers
1. United Kingdom London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow, London–Luton
2. Denmark Copenhagen
3. United States New York-JFK, New York–Newark
4. Norway Oslo–Gardermoen
5. United States Boston
6. France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
7. Netherlands Amsterdam
8. Sweden Stockholm–Arlanda
9. Germany Frankfurt
10. Canada Toronto–Pearson
11. Germany Berlin–Schönefeld, Berlin–Tegel
12. United States Seattle–Tacoma
13. United Kingdom Manchester
14. Finland Helsinki
15. United States Washington–Dulles
16. Germany Munich
17. United States Denver
18. United Kingdom Glasgow–International
19. Canada Edmonton
20. Norway Bergen

Passenger numbers[edit]

Year Passengers[30] 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%


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. Buses are operated by Airport Express, Flybus and straeto (Reykjavik's transit company) to Reykjavik.[31] Taxis are available outside the terminal. Rental cars are available from various companies.[32]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 21 July 2013, a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner, prototype aircraft 97005, made a belly landing during a test flight. The cause was a crew mistake due to fatigue. They operated the plane manually in order to simulate failures.[33][34]


  1. ^ "Vísir – Enn eitt metið slegið í fjölda farþega sem fara um Keflavíkurflugvöll". 
  2. ^ a b "BIKF – Keflavík" (PDF). Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration. 
  3. ^ "2012 Passenger Statistics". Isavia Limited. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Cargo Statistics 2012". Isavia Limited. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Government Debated Secret Nuclear Deployments in Iceland". National Security Archive. George Washington University. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Concorde to Iceland – The Ultimate Day Trip Trailer – Plato Video". YouTube. 21 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Annex 6 - Operation of Aircraft
  8. ^ Read description and sources to his life and discovery in Leif Erikson
  9. ^ "Hugmyndir um að reisa nýja flugstöð" (in Icelandic). ruv. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Metfjöldi farþega á Keflavíkurflugvelli í fyrra – Mikil aukning fjórða árið í röð". 
  11. ^ "Hugmyndir um nýja flugbraut á Keflavíkurflugvelli" (in Icelandic). visir. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ - Timetables retrieved 1 November 2016
  14. ^ a b "Air Canada Adds Iceland to Growing International Network for Summer 2017". Air Canada. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Finnair plans new routes for S17 - (Finnish)
  16. ^ Finnair adds more flights to Europe for S17 - Launches Reykjavík as year-round destination - (Finnish)
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ a b "Icelandair Announces Service from Tampa Bay and Philadelphia". 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  19. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Primera Air Scandinavia: S17 New Routes". Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  22. ^ L, J (7 September 2016). "WizzAir plans new Katowice routes in S17". airlineroute. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "WOW air Confirms Bristol Route Will Continue". Bristol Airport. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  25. ^ "New Service From Cork Airport To Reykjavík Next Summer". Cork Airport. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^,7340,L-4912774,00.html
  29. ^ Eurostat - Database
  30. ^ "2010 -". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  31. ^ "Airport Shuttle from Keflavik Airport, Iceland - Keflavik International Airport -". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  32. ^ "Car Rental/Car Hire at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland -". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  33. ^ "Accident: Sukhoi SU95 at Keflavik on Jul 21st 2013, belly landing". 
  34. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. March 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Keflavík International Airport at Wikimedia Commons