With the number of passengers traveling to and from the Faroe Islands breaking new records for years on end amid booming tourism business, Vagar Airport is already mulling to extend its new passenger terminal.
[Bui Tyril & Edmund Jacobsen]
For passengers travelling through Vagar Airport, the new terminal there, completed in the summer of 2014, has made a very real difference. More comfortable, stylish and spacious, with a much larger selection of tax-free shopping items and more enjoyable lounges and eateries, the modern building quickly became a symbol of a new era of travel in the Faroe Islands—coinciding with a boom in tourism, and with the vast majority of visitors entering and leaving the country through its sole airport.
The inauguration of Vagar Airport’s new passenger terminal marked the completion of a major upgrade of the airport that included an expansion of the runway by 50 percent i.e. from 1250 to 1799 meters, along with an array of investments in technology, safety, logistics and more.
Subsequently, a large parking lot has been developed with the next phase involving roofing and lighting for it. As for other current items on the agenda, the airport is looking to further develop its luggage conveyor system, according to Kitty May Ellefsen, Chair of the Board of Directors. Also, the DutyFree FAE shop, already a big hit among passengers since opening in 2014, will possibly be extended.
“This passenger terminal was projected to meet demand for a good many years ahead,” Ms. Ellefsen said. “However, rapid growth in the number of passengers means we’ll be faced with a squeeze for space sooner than expected.”
2017 was yet another record-breaking year with regard to passengers traveling through Vagar Airport, as the total number exceeded 341,000 compared to about 275,000 the previous year.
“The terminal was designed to handle up to 400,000 passengers on an annual basis, in line with earlier expectations and was thus projected to have sufficient capacity until 2024,” Ms. Ellefsen said. “Now, as it turns out, it’s already time to consider its expansion.”
She added: “We see more passengers than ever before, increasingly coming from Asia, primarily via Copenhagen and Iceland; and signs are this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.”
With inbound tourism growing at unprecedented pace, and business travel on a rise as well, Vagar Airport plays a central role in facilitating all air travel.
‘Safer, more convenient’
In 2018 Vagar Airport implemented Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures, which in essence enables aircraft to make approaches under lower visibility conditions, including such that previously would have operations cancelled. Frequented by extreme weather and known for ever-changing and unpredictable conditions, the Faroe Islands’ location in the middle of the North Atlantic entails a special need for top-notch navigational technology, something Vagar Airport has long been acutely aware of.
“Aircraft rely on precise navigation equipment,” said Chief Operations Officer Jákup Egholm Hansen. “One of our priorities has been to upgrade the technology, and we also made significant renewals of instruments etc. in connection with the recent runway extension.”
“The implementation of RNP technology and associated procedures covering approaches was completed in 2018 and certified by the International Air Transport Association,” Mr. Hansen added. “RNP procedures for departure have subsequently been designed, with certification expected later this year .”
The RNP family of navigation specifications allows for the operation of aircraft along a precise flight path with a high level of accuracy and the ability to determine aircraft position with both accuracy and integrity. The system offers safety benefits through its precision and accuracy, reducing operational inefficiencies such as multiple step-down non-precision and circling approaches. For aircraft equipped to use the technology, RNP has markedly increased reliability while reducing cancellations.
According to Mr. Hansen, Vagar Airport has also initiated studies of possibilities to move its offset localizer closer to the runway, primarily to free up surrounding space for future development but also as part of the ongoing process to upgrade the navigation equipment at the airport. This year a new Standard Instrument Departure (SID) procedure has been implemented at the airport.
“It’s all about following the development in technical equipment and procedures, making it ever safer and more convenient to travel to and from the Faroe Islands,” he said.