The revamp of Vagar Airport nears the finish line as the new terminal and service buildings get the final touch — meanwhile the number of passengers traveling through the airport reaches a record 236,000 and continues to rise.
With the inauguration of the new passenger terminal this May/June (2014), a five-year overhaul and major upgrade of Vagar Airport FAE will be completed. Aside from the rebuilt terminal and service buildings, a larger share of the 412 million dkk (55M eur) investment was assigned to the extension of the airport’s runway from 1,250 to 1,800 meters, finished in late 2011. Furthermore, the development program has included aircraft apron, administration facilities, fire station, and car park.
For the Faroe Islands’ only airport and main international travel gateway, the implications of the revamp are far-reaching, according to Vagar Airport CEO Jákup Sverri Kass, who notes three key advances—improved service for passengers and airlines, safer and more predictable flights, and access for aircraft with greater operating range.
“This program has brought a transformation of the airport,” Mr. Kass said. “In many ways we have a brand new airport, complete with an 1,800-meter runway, a new instrument landing system [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][ILS]; and of course this new terminal allows for much larger numbers of passengers and more space for travel related business.”
The modern looking terminal building, in contrast with its predecessor, has an international, futuristic feel to it and offers more convenience and a wider range of experiences for passengers. As for duty-free shopping, the airport has teamed up with the Faroese national carrier Atlantic Airways to set up a new store to commence business when the terminal opens.
“The passenger terminal is an important element when it comes to the attractiveness of an airport,” Mr. Kass said. “With this new building I think we have taken our terminal to a whole new level.”
New record: Lately there have been reports of airline operators looking into the possibility of adding Vagar to their service routes and Mr. Kass confirmed that there have been talks, however he declined to offer details. For the time being, that leaves Atlantic Airways as the sole regular user of the airport.
“We have a very good working relationship with Atlantic Airways, but we are certainly looking to attract more airlines, with the right material to make use of the airport. Currently we are in dialog with several of them; this is an ongoing process and we want to be realistic about it. That said, we believe there are viable business opportunities in our new and improved facilities combined with the location of the Faroe Islands. It remains a challenge, of course, to attract new players inasmuch as the Faroes is still seen as unknown territory. Now such opportunities are not limited to the size of the Faroese economy. Where appropriate we may propose to have Vagar added to existing route networks; in other cases the airport can serve as an intermediary between start points and destinations—after all, our location fits well with a number of scenarios.”
Among those scenarios, alongside air routes in neighboring countries: charter operations in connection with offshore oil and gas or in connection with cruise tourism in the Faroes or, last but not least—acting as transit hub between destinations for charter or scheduled flights.
“The big change compared to earlier, before the extension of the runway, is that Vagar Airport can now serve aircraft with a larger operating radius. The fact that we can now handle both medium-haul and short-haul flights puts many more destinations within reach across Europe and beyond.”
Also the airport is now better equipped to help minimize potential flight delays caused by bad weather or poor visibility. As well as full ILS for maximum precision, the extension of the runway included new safety zones and new in-flight approach lighting.
“As for weather and visibility issues, the number of delays and disruptions has been reduced thanks to new technology,” Mr. Kass said. “Statistical data now confirm what we were expecting—the punctuality of flights at Vagar is higher now compared to earlier.”
The occasion for Vagar to celebrate its upgrade is further accentuated with the latest record-breaking travel statistics. This year is expected to see the highest number of passengers ever to travel through FAE, following a total of more than 236,000 last year, the most ever to date.
“The total number of passengers traveling through the airport during 2013 was 236,181,” Mr. Kass said. “This was an increase of about 11,000 passengers, almost five percent on the previous year, which at the time was the busiest. From what we’ve seen, 2014 may even set a new record if things go as planned.”