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Keflavik Airport To See Full Passenger Rebound Next Year

Isavia, the airport administrator in Iceland, expects 2023 to be the year when Keflavik International Airport (KEF) fully rebounds from the COVID-19 crisis. The company forecasts 7.8 million passengers next year and 2.2 million tourists throughout Iceland.


The Icelandic rebound

On Thursday, Isavia presented its passenger forecast for the year 2023. Next year is expected to be the third biggest in the history of Keflavik Airport. With 7.8 million passengers forecasted to go through Keflavik Airport, and 2.2 million tourists visiting Iceland, 2023 would only be behind in 2018, when more tourists were coming to the European country (2.3 million).

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Photo: Isavia.

Keflavik Airport expects 24 airlines will fly 7.8 million passengers next year, which would be the third most in the airport’s history, according to the passenger forecast. Isavia expects that the percentage of transfer passengers will be 27%, a similar number to 2019, but still less than in 2018 when the percentage was almost 40%.

These 24 airlines will have scheduled flights to and from 80 destinations in Europe and North America, including 51 year-round. The carriers currently operating at Keflavik Airport are shown in the image below.

Keflavik airlines

Total passengers so far

Between January and October 2022, Keflavik Airport received 4.39 million passengers, according to data by Isavia. Compared to the numbers the airport had in 2018, the best year in its history, Keflavik has only recovered 51.2% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the Icelandic airport. This year’s biggest month was August, when Keflavik received 841,564 passengers. Compared to August 2018, Keflavik recovered around 71% of its pre-pandemic traffic levels that same month but only 50% of its pre-pandemic transit passengers (that is, people that use Keflavik as a connectivity hub through airlines such as PLAY and Icelandair).

As of November 2022, there are about 3,208 monthly flights from Keflavik, according to data by Cirium. Icelandair is the largest operator, with 1,739 weekly flights, followed by PLAY (529) and easyJet (314).

Icelandair

Photo: Getty Images.

The benefits of Keflavik

Isavia and Iceland overall are looking to invest heavily in Keflavik. Sveinbjörn Indriðason, CEO of Isavia, said it is a leading international hub laying the foundation for the number of flight connections that the Icelandic economy relies on.

“Airports Council International in Europe (ACI Europe) has stated that a 10% increase in direct flight connections results in about 0.5% economic growth in the country concerned. The effect in Iceland is probably even greater since we are an island country,” said Sveinbjörn.

Guðmundur Daði Rúnarsson, Chief Commercial and Airport Development Officer (CCDO) at Isavia, said the rapid recovery of passengers this year and the passenger forecast confirms that the tourism industry has reached its previous strength, and this encourages Isavia to continue responsibly developing Keflavík International Airport.

The airport operator is building the so-called East Wing, which will open in stages from the second half of next year until the end of 2024. In the meantime, Isavia is looking to improve the entire service experience at the airport, added Guðmundur Daði.

Have you been to Keflavík International Airport? How did you find the experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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