1919 the pilot Rolf Zimsen, the nephew of the mayor of Reykjavik, was
summoned to the country to explore the possibilities for domestic
communications in the air. He
soon announced his choice of an airstrip in the Vatnsmyri bog near the
capital and the Town Council granted an area of 93,200 m² for the
purpose. At the same time
the first of four joint-stock companies called Icelandair was founded
and the first aeroplane was imported.
It started flying on the 3rd of September.
The first pilot was Cecil Faber, who stayed in Iceland for three
weeks. The day after the
first successful flight, the citizens were offered the possibility to
see the capital and its surroundings from the air for five minutes for
following year an Icelandic-Canadian pilot, Frank Fredrickson, took
over. The first accident
recorded in the history of flight in Iceland happened on June 27th,
when the pilot had to abandon take off and hit two siblings, a girl of
ten, who died, and her four years old brother, who was seriously hurt.
The operation of the plane was not successful and it was sold the
next year. In 1928 another
company by the same name was established.
It was operated until 1931, when the world crisis and other
disasters prevented further attempts.
During the next two years, two Dutch weather observers used the
provisional airstrip. By
that time the field had been somewhat improved.
The hangar and wooden bridges were sold, mainly because of the
lack of all kinds of building materials.
Agnar Kofoed-Hansen was the first to fly a glider from the airfield
early in 1937. It crashed
on the third attempt without serious injuries to the pilot.
The same year the company “Air Akureyri” was established and
three years later the name was changed to Icelandair.
It built a hangar on the cove Shellvik, where amphibious aircraft
served the domestic needs for some time.
The field was sometimes to wet and boggy for heavy planes and
therefore they had to fly empty to a nearby field at Korpulfsstadir to
pick up passengers and cargo. The
international airline “Loftleidir” was founded in 1944.
Agnar Kofoed-Hansen fought on behalf of the newly founded Aviation
Society for the construction of a durable airport in the Vatnsmyri bog
and the engineer Gustaf E. Palsson designed it.
Nothing happened until the British occupied Iceland in 1940. They immediately started the construction work according to
their own designs. Their
equipment was simple and primitive.
As a result, they could not change the soil under the runways,
which soon made them very bumpy. Since
then the airport has gradually been repaired and the latest improvements
were made during the period between 1999 and 2001.
The Allies handed the airport over to the Icelandic authorities
at the end of the war.
British built a control tower for their operations in Iceland and it was
used until the new one took over in 1960.
The office and hotel buildings of Loftleidir were built in
1962-64. The airport has
been the main centre of domestic flights from the end of the war and
both companies operated from there until Loftleidir moved its
international operations to Keflavik in 1962.
Icelandair bought a Boing 727 in 1967 and soon started operating
its international flights from Keflavik.
The Icelandic Aviation Administration has had its headquarters at
the airport since 1950. Prior to that, the government assigned Mr. Agnar
Kofoed-Hansen an aviation advisor in 1936, and he became the first
director of the Administration.
The Icelandic Meteorological Centre moved a part of its operation to the old
tower in 1950 from the Maritime College and in 1952 the main operation
was moved to the Keflavik Airport.
A branch of the aviation weather services continued in the new
tower after 1962. The
present centre of The Meteorological Office at Bustadavegur was built in
1973. The flight department
of The Icelandic Coast Guard is situated on the airport.
location of the airport has long been a matter of debates and disputes
among the citizens of Reykjavik, mainly because of the danger it
represents and the possibility of consolidating the habitation of the
town. Many have suggested
moving the domestic operations to Keflavik, building a new airport in
the Hvassahraun Area or on landfills in the Skerjafiord Bay, which would
become a domestic and an international airport.
At least nothing is going to happen until 2016 and no one knows
yet, what is going to happen after that.
The operational hours of
Reykjavik Airport and air traffic
All days 07:00 - 23:30
Saturday, Sundays and public holidays 8:00 - 23:30.