Flights are multiplying at Keflavík International Airport, where most travellers to Iceland enter the country, and over 1,000 jobs have been created at the airport thanks to the increase in activity. The mayor of neighbouring Reykjanesbær says many unemployed residents who used to work at the airport are waiting to get their jobs back. Construction on an expansion of the airport has begun and is expected to create additional jobs until its expected completion in 2024.
Icelandair Hires 800
Icelandair has hired 800 employees, mostly crew and flight service staff, to prepare for the summer season. Fréttablaðið reports that the airline is currently operating around 50 departures per week but expects to be operating around 100 weekly departures by the end of June. Seventeen flights landed at the airport yesterday in total and 12 are scheduled for today, with similar numbers expected in the coming days.
Icelandic low-cost airline PLAY, which will launch its first scheduled flight on June 24, has already hired employees and expects staff to number 150 by the end of the summer. Isavia, the national airport and air navigation service provider of Iceland, has added 96 full-time positions since February. Many of the positions are in airport shops or other airport services.
One in Five Unemployed in Reykjanesbær
Keflavík Airport has been a major employer of residents of Reykjanesbær, located nearby on the Reykjanes peninsula. Unemployment in the town was 24.5% at the start of the year but has dropped to 21.6%, double the national rate of 10.6% (for April 2021). The town’s mayor Kjartan Már Kjartansson told RÚV he sees how the increased activity at the airport has made an impact in the town. “Every job makes a difference. There were several thousand people on the unemployment register at the peak earlier this winter and early this spring but now fortunately that group is shrinking and we are very happy with that.” Kjartan adds that not everyone who was working at the airport can expect to be rehired this summer, “but hopefully it will happen in the next two, three, or four years.”
Construction Begins on New Airport Building
Yesterday Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson officially broke ground for the construction of an extension of Leifur Eiríksson Terminal at Keflavík International Airport. The extension will rise to the east of the current terminal building and will measure 20,000 square metres (215,000 square feet). It is expected to be taken into use in 2024. Besides increasing the airport’s overall capacity, the extension is expected to improve service to passengers. Its projected cost is ISK 20.8 billion ($174 million/€142 million).