Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir and Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson broke ground in a ceremony to mark the commencement of expansions at Reykjavík Airport on Friday. The airport is being expanded to accommodate a larger air traffic control center, run by Isavia. Isavia operates most airports in Iceland.
Operations currently run from four locations in the city with most staff working from the Reykjavík Area Control Center. A third of all air traffic across the North Atlantic is controlled from the traffic control center, visir.is reports.
The area controlled by the center measures 5.4 million square km. It ranges from the Greenwich meridian in the east to west of Greenland, from the North Pole to south of the Faroe Islands, close to Scotland (see map here).
Isavia monitors air traffic under an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), including traffic over Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which is done in cooperation with the authorities of those countries.
In 2013, 116,000 planes flew through Icelandic airspace. Already this year, 112,000 planes have flown through Icelandic airspace, suggesting that there will be an increase of 15 percent in 2014.
The center creates more than 200 well-paid jobs for specialists as well as additional activities and brings the Icelandic economy close to ISK 4 billion (USD 32 million, EUR 26 million) in net foreign exchange earnings annually.
The expansion of the air traffic control center is expected to cost ISK 1 billion over the next two years and will be paid by users.
The plan is for the expanded center to open in the latter part of 2016.