Keflavik Airport prepares for dynamic 2024 following busy year
Iceland’s Keflavík Airport (KEF) capped off an extraordinary year in 2023, welcoming 7.75 million passengers through its terminal. This figure aligns seamlessly with the airport’s December 2022 forecast, marking a considerable 27% year-on-year growth and a 7% increase in passengers on the pre-pandemic 2019.
KEF continued to position itself as a transfer hub in northern Europe, with 27% of all travellers passing through the airport continuing onto another flight. This was equivalent to nearly 2.13 million passengers. A total of 28 airlines served Iceland’s premier gateway, facilitating travel to a diverse array of 95 destinations. Notable additions to KEF’s destination map in 2023 included Athens, courtesy of Play, and Detroit, now accessible via Delta and Icelandair.
As focus firmly shifts onto 2024, Keflavík Airport is poised for even greater heights. The airport’s passenger forecast for the year anticipates almost 8.5 million passengers. Out of those, an estimated 2.5 million travellers, or 30%, are expected to be transfer passengers, while six million will either arrive or depart from KEF.
The forecast boldly predicts the arrival of nearly 2.4 million foreign tourists in Iceland through the airport. If these projections materialise, 2024 will become KEF’s third-busiest year, boasting the largest number of foreign tourists, surpassing the previous record set in 2018.
Guðmundur Daði Rúnarsson, CCO and Airport Development Officer at Isavi, the operator of KEF, said: “We look forward to welcoming more guests in 2024. Our recent investments in airport development have started to yield results, offering improved facilities for passengers and staff. The forecast also indicates that there will be a more proportionate increase in the number of passengers, including foreign tourists visiting Iceland, during the winter months as compared to the summer months. This will contribute to a more balanced and year-round utilization of the airport and Iceland’s tourism infrastructure in general.”
The expected 9.5% increase in passenger numbers for the year will be fuelled by frequency growth on existing routes, the arrival of new carriers and the introduction of new destinations during the 2024 summer season. New additions will include Calgary in Canada operated by WestJet, a newcomer to the Icelandic market, as well as Pittsburgh and Halifax with Icelandair, Stuttgart with Eurowings, and New York EWR with United, further underscoring KEF’s expanding global reach.
Looking ahead to the second half of 2024, KEF will make the new East Wing of its terminal fully operational as the project’s second phase is completed, improving the overall passenger experience. Guðmundur Daði noted: “In the second half of 2024, the East Wing will be fully operational, with construction commencing in mid-2021. This phase will include new boarding gates, as well as an expanded area for shops and restaurants. These developments will enable us to accommodate the growing number of passengers more effectively and provide better facilities for our employees and business partners. All of this contributes to an enhanced service and experience for passengers, strengthening the airport’s competitiveness.”