LONDON – Keflavik International Airport has been in the spotlight recently with the emergence of WOW Air and the continued growth of Icelandair. Now, the airport is closing it on operating at full capacity, and expansion could be in order.

This point has come at a far quicker pace than the airport executives expected, setting previous projections at 8.8 million passengers per year by 2025.

Keflavik is due to handling 10 million passengers for this year. Therefore, the airport operator is now working on a $1 billion expansion plan to ease the lack of capacity that the airport is facing at certain points of the day.

Under new projections, the airport is expected to handle 17 million passengers per year by 2030. Iceland also received 2.2 million foreign visitors in 2016, which was triple the number of 2011.

Expansion Details

Details regarding the new expansion will include 26 new gates, 16 of them connected to the airport, and will increase its retail and dining space.

Photo: Jeff Hitchcock

The airport already knows how the expansion will be funded: airline landing fees, concessions, and non-aeronautical streams.

ISAVIA, the operator of Iceland’s, also said that financial loans would boost the project.

Icelandair vs. WOW

Such rapid growth has come from the growth of both Icelandair and budget carrier WOW Air, who have expanded significantly over the past few years with an extensive transatlantic presence.

With the two carriers always trying to compete with each other, it is no surprise that new routes are opening and that more passengers are coming to Iceland as a result.

Icelandair 80th anniversary

American, United, and Delta have also seen a demand increase out of Iceland and have subsequently increased flying to Keflavik as well.

With the transatlantic connection point already well-established, WOW Air will be launching flights to New Delhi from Keflavik in December, which is the beginning of Skuli Mogensen’s strategies of Keflavik becoming the “Dubai of the North.”

The airport is relatively small at the moment, with passengers currently needing around 25 minutes of connecting time at the minimum.

copyright Andrew H. Cline 2017

Even as the airport expands, ISAVIA doesn’t believe that connecting times will increase significantly to the likes of Heathrow or Narita, for which you need at least an hour’s time.

Keflavik’s expansion needs show that the airport is slowly becoming one of the most important mainstream airports around the globe.

Photo: Jeff Hitchcock

With the connection points in North America to the slowly growing presence in Asia and the far-east, Keflavik will need this expansion to keep up with the growing demand from the two Icelandic carriers, as well as those international ones.