Keflavík International Airport
Keflavik International Airport is located in Reykjavik, Iceland. The size of the airport is 25 square kilometers or approximately 10 square miles. It is the largest airport in Iceland and is the main hub for all of Iceland’s international travel. Most international flights to and from Iceland are connected through Keflavik. Almost all flights out of Keflavik are to international destinations. The airport is exclusively an international airport, with domestic flights being operated out of Reykjavik Airport. The airport is owned by Isavia, an enterprise founded by the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration. The airport’s elevation is approximately 171 feet above sea level.
History of the Airport
The Airport was constructed by the United States military during its involvement in World War II. The U.S. Army Air Force needed an airfield for their heavy duty bombers and a strip for their fighter planes. After the government allocated the necessary funds, construction began in 1942. The fighter strip was named Patterson Field. The two runways of the field were used in July of that year as a part of Operation Bolero. Construction of the bomber field, later named Meeks Field, began soon after. Military and civilian contractors began construction until the U.S. Navy’s Seabees came in to replace the civilian workers. Meeks Field was dedicated in March of 1943 and was used as a stop for transatlantic military flights. The airport was exclusively used for military purposes for the duration of the war. After the war, the airfield was converted as a refueling stop for transatlantic flights. As the United States withdrew its forces in 1947, the airport was handed over to the country of Iceland. It was later named Keflavik. The U.S. forces would eventually return to Keflavik in 1951 as a part of NATO. However, the country of Iceland does not have a military. The United States and Iceland operated the airport jointly until September 2006 when the installation was handed over to the Icelandic government.
The 1951 Iceland-U.S. Defense Agreement allowing the return of U.S. forces to Iceland was a controversial issue. The military base was reconstructed in the early 1950s. At the same time, the terminal itself was located in the middle of base itself. International travelers flying in and out of the airport encountered military checkpoints. Some travelers seemed to believe they were at a disadvantage and believed that the United States had complete control over access of Iceland. The military checkpoints remained in place until the relocation of the civilian terminal was completed in 1987. The once-known Military Area was re-designated as the airport’s security and development area. The area is supervised by the airport and the Icelandic Defense Agency.
Keflavik Airport Operations
There is one terminal in Keflavik. The Leifur Eriksson Terminal is named after Leif Ericson. The terminal was opened on April 6, 1987. The terminal was designed to separate the civilian air traffic from the military traffic. In compliance with the Schengen Agreement, the terminal was extended with the South Building opening up in 2001. Enlargement of the North Building was completed in 2007.