Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Keflavík International Airport
Keflavík International Airport (also known as Flugstöđ Leifs Eiríkssonar) is the largest airport in Iceland. It is situated near the town of Keflavík, about 50 km (about 31 miles) from Reykjavík. The airport has four runways, two 3065 m × 60 m and two 3054 m × 60 m. The airport area is about 25 square kilometers and falls within the NATO defence area. Its IATA airport code is KEF.
The airport's history is interesting in many ways. It was built by the US Army during WWII and opened on March 23, 1943. During the war it only served miltary purposes but soon after the war it became a popular refueling airport for planes crossing the Atlantic. After a brief withdrawal, US forces came back to Keflavík and, due to its strategic location, have continued using the airport to the present day. In fact, the airport is still partially funded by American tax dollars, although the Icelandic government is increasing its share little by little. Travellers going through the station even had to stop at American check-points and show their passports to soldiers up until the mid-1980s. This was extremely unpopular among the Icelanders.
During the 1960s and 1970s, many rallies were held to protest the US presence in Iceland (and in particular in Keflavík) and every year hundreds, sometimes thousands, walked the 50 km road to Keflavík and chanted "Ísland úr NATO, herinn burt" (literally: Iceland out of Nato, the military away). One of the better known participants was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who later became the first female president of Iceland.
Although the population of Iceland is only about 300,000, there are scheduled flights to and from 7 locations in the USA (6 on the east coast and 1 on the west coast) and 16 cities across Europe. It should be noted that Keflavík Airport only serves international flights: domestic flights and flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands are operated from Reykjavík's domestic airport. The main carriers are Icelandair and IcelandExpress.
- Passengers going through the airport (2000): 1,455,706
- Cargo through the airport (2003, tonnes): 40,554
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