Qaarsut Airport

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Qaarsut Airport
Mittarfik Qaarsut
Uummannaq/Qaarsut Airport
Qaarsut Airport
Airport type Public
Operator Greenland Airport Authority
Serves Qaarsut and Uummannaq, Greenland
Location Qaarsut
Elevation AMSL 289 ft / 88 m
Coordinates 70°44′03″N 052°41′46″W / 70.73417°N 52.69611°W / 70.73417; -52.69611Coordinates: 70°44′03″N 052°41′46″W / 70.73417°N 52.69611°W / 70.73417; -52.69611
Website Qaarsut Lufthavne
BGUQ is located in Greenland
Location in Greenland
Direction Length Surface
m ft
15/33 900 2,953 Gravel
Statistics (2012)
Passengers 7,105
Source: Danish AIS[1]

Qaarsut Airport (Greenlandic: Mittarfik Qaarsut) (IATA: JQAICAO: BGUQ) is an airport in Qaarsut, a settlement on the Nuussuaq Peninsula in the Qaasuitsup municipality in northwestern Greenland. It is a primary airport with a gravel runway, capable of serving STOL aircraft of Air Greenland in all seasons.[2] There is a small cafeteria in the tiny arrivals/departures hall. It is connected by a 4 km (2.5 mi) gravel road to Qaarsut and is 13.5 nautical miles (25.0 km; 15.5 mi) northwest of Uummannaq.[1]


Air Greenland passengers transfer between Bell 212 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in Qaarsut

Qaarsut airport was inaugurated on 29 September 1999,[3] with the purpose of serving the much larger neighboring town of Uummannaq, 13.5 NM (25.0 km; 15.5 mi) southeast[1] of the airport, located on an island of the same name in the south-central part of Uummannaq Fjord. The island−merely 23 km (14 mi) away in a direct line across Sarqarput Strait−is too small and rocky to host an airport of sufficient size to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft of Air Greenland.

The airport thus functions as a mini-hub for Uummannaq,[4] with the terminal building labelled 'Uummannaq', regardless of its actual location, registration, documentation, and existing booking systems.


Air Greenland Bell 212 helicopter shuttling passengers between Qaarsut and Uummannaq

The decision to build the airport in Qaarsut was intended to solve the bottleneck on the Ilulissat-Uummannaq route (164 km), until then operated by Air Greenland with Sikorsky S-61N helicopters. Acquired in 1965, they are the oldest machines in the fleet of the airline,[5] still in operation year-round in southern Greenland and during wintertime in the Disko Bay area south of Qaarsut.

The bottleneck problem is considered unsolved, since passengers must still be shuttled between the airport and Uummannaq Heliport. The primary function of the airport as a local hub has unintended consequences for communities of northern Greenland. All flights to Qaanaaq Airport include a stopover in Upernavik Airport. In order to avoid an overnight layover in Upernavik, all Qaanaaq-bound passengers must travel via Qaarsut.[6] Flights on the Ilulissat-Qaarsut route are often sold out, which given a single weekly flight to Qaanaaq leaves passengers unable to travel to or from the northern communities, resulting in resentment.[7][8] As of 2017, it is possible to travel Ilulissat–Qaanaaq or opposite within a day with only one plane change in Upernavik without touching Qaarsut.


ATC tower and 'mislabeled' terminal

Proposals to close the airport[9] have to date been rejected.[10] Sunk costs, tourism potential for northwestern and northern Greenland, and the 2010 reinvigoration of the mining activities in Maamorilik northeast of Ukkusissat, as well as on Appat Island in the future[11][12]−are the primary reasons for keeping the airport open.[10]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Air Greenland Ilulissat, Uummannaq[6]



  1. ^ a b c Greenland AIP for BGUQ – Uummannaq/Qaarsut Airport from Naviair
  2. ^ Air Greenland destination overview Archived March 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., with a photograph of the runway
  3. ^ Archived October 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Air Greenland, 50th anniversary website (Danish)
  6. ^ a b "Booking system". Air Greenland. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Træt af trafikproblemer". Sermitsiaq (in Danish). 3 July 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Travel problems frustrating isolated town". Sermitsiaq. 3 July 2008. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Luk lufthavne i Qaanaaq og Qaarsut". Sermitsiaq (in Danish). 20 August 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Lufthavne bliver ikke lukket". Sermitsiaq (in Danish). 17 October 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.