Air Greenland’s 10+ Hour Flight To Nowhere

Air Greenland’s 10+ Hour Flight To Nowhere

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Today Air Greenland passengers were treated to a very scenic journey around Greenland and Iceland. Unfortunately they ended up exactly where they started, which wasn’t the plan.

Air Greenland’s Copenhagen route

Air Greenland operates a single wide body aircraft, which generally flies between Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (SFJ), and Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH). This service to & from Greenland’s largest airport is one of the primary links for both passengers and cargo to get to the region. This ~2,200 mile flight usually takes under five hours in each direction.

Air Greenland has a single wide body jet, an Airbus A330-200, which is roughly 24 years old and has the registration code OY-GRN (Air Greenland will soon be replacing this with a new Airbus A330-800neo). Well, this service didn’t operate as planned today, as noted by @sheajc.

Air Greenland’s 10+ hour flight to nowhere

Today (Tuesday, June 21, 2022), Air Greenland’s flight from Copenhagen didn’t quite stick to its schedule. The flight departed as it was supposed to, and the first four hours of the journey were uneventful. Things changed when the plane began its descent toward Kangerlussuaq.

The weather conditions around Kangerlussuaq weren’t great, so the aircraft had to enter a holding pattern at around 20,000 feet, in hopes of conditions improving. After holding for over 35 minutes, the pilots attempted an approach to the airport. They got as low as 2,500 feet, but due to the bad conditions, the decision was made to abort the landing and divert.

Unfortunately in this case the closest suitable diversion point that could handle the A330 was Keflavik Airport in Iceland (KEF). As you’d expect, the plane had enough fuel reserves for the 800+ mile flight to Iceland. When all was said and done, the plane spent over 6hr40min flying from Copenhagen to Keflavik.

Air Greenland’s very long route to Iceland

However, Keflavik was just the refueling point. The plane spent a bit over an hour on the ground there, and with conditions not having improved in Greenland, the decision was made to just return to Copenhagen. So at this point the Air Greenland A330 operated a 2hr27min flight back to Copenhagen.

Air Greenland’s return to Copenhagen

When all was said and done, the plane landed back in Copenhagen over 10 hours after its departure. Talk about a long flight to nowhere! And this was on Greenland’s National Day no less! On the plus side, if you’re going to be flying for 10+ hours to nowhere, this is at least a beautiful part of the world in which to do so.

Bottom line

Air Greenland’s “flagship” route between Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq was quite eventful today. The flight operated all the way to Greenland, but due to weather conditions there, the plane wasn’t able to land. The decision was then made to divert to Iceland, and after refueling, the plane simply returned to Copenhagen.

Talk about quite a flight to nowhere…

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  1. Greg Guest

    You say the original A330 was a single aisle, I thought the A330 was twin isle and wide body? Am I wrong?

  2. Asdf Guest

    The fourth season of Borgen is out on Netflix and centers on a discovery of oil in Greenland. Many flights back and forth by the characters... surprised there was no Air Greenland product placement.

  3. Alan B Guest

    No EU261 compensation is due at all. When the issue is outside the airline's control, and the weather certainly is, there is no liability to pay compensation, just to take care of the passengers, which in this case probably meant paying for hotel accommodation in Copenhagen if that was not their home address

  4. Sean M. Diamond

    EU261/2004 compensation!!! Ka-ching.

    1. Max Guest

      If it’s beyond the airlines control (weather-related), there won’t be a cash compensation. Airlines will just have the duty to care about passengers. This means giving them hotel rooms, food, access to a telephone.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      EU261/2004 does not use "within the airlines control" as a test for eligibility for compensation. Rather, it uses the "extraordinary circumstances" and "reasonable measures" tests.

      One could easily make the argument that bad weather in Greenland is not an extraordinary circumstance and therefore the airline could have taken reasonable measures to mitigate the impact on the passengers (such as rescheduling the flight to a time of day with better weather forecasts).

  5. Mogens Christian Jørgensen Guest

    My name is Mogens Christian Jørgensen
    And my family is Danish.
    I have been twice to Søndtre Strømfjord
    And my cousin Per in Denmark was
    Married to a Beautiful Greenlander.
    What a great treat to have experienced
    Such a unique flight.
    God bless to all!

  6. Brian G. Member

    If I had to take a guess they probably normally "tanker" max possible fuel, for cost savings reasons. This gives them a lot of options when it comes to diversions as well.

    1. Gabriel Guest

      Your guess is correct!

  7. KingBob Guest

    Weather-related diversions can't be that uncommon in Greenland.

    1. Gabriel Guest

      Weather diversions are very common in Greenland but no so common at Kangerlussuaq, which enjoys clear weather most of the year. That's one reason why this is the main hub for the A330 flights from Copenhagen (that and the long runway, which was built there in the first place because of the generally clear weather).

    2. Foxy Guest

      Interesting, we flew from Kangerlussuaq yesterday and the Air Greenland representatives said about 50% of domestic flights get rerouted or cancelled due to bad weather. We made it to Ilulissat in the second attempt and most of the other flights in and out got cancelled or heavily delayed. Air travel here seems to be a bit of a gamble but this CPH bounce back is rather unique

  8. Samo Guest

    What was the benefit of diverting back to CPH rather than spending the night in KEF and flying to Greenland the next day? Hotels in Iceland too expensive? :)

    1. Chandan Bhat Gold

      I could be wrong, but I'm guessing this has something to do with Copenhagen and Kangerlussuaq being in the same country?

    2. Fed UP Guest

      COVID, different country, no agents, and on and on

  9. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Clear USAF base Thule we’re not in the mood to take a diversion either.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      I guess military bases wouldn't be a diversion point unless it's a real emergency, and KEF is probably closer too. At least in terms of accommodating passengers.

      It's about time Nuuk really needs to expand. Tourism boom will come in the next 10 years.

    2. Steve Diamond

      My first thought was Thule as well but Thule is 756 miles away and the opposite direction of Copenhagen. Where Iceland is 830 miles away so pretty much the same as Thule but much closer to Copenhagen in case they needed to return to Denmark.

  10. Daniel Guest

    Just hope the passengers got miles credited for the whole distance. :D

    1. Kenn Gerdes Guest

      Air Greenland has no loyalty program, so no miles earned.

      At least Air Greenland is generous with onboard food and drinks.

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Daniel Guest

Just hope the passengers got miles credited for the whole distance. :D

2
Steve Diamond

My first thought was Thule as well but Thule is 756 miles away and the opposite direction of Copenhagen. Where Iceland is 830 miles away so pretty much the same as Thule but much closer to Copenhagen in case they needed to return to Denmark.

1
Sean M. Diamond

EU261/2004 does not use "within the airlines control" as a test for eligibility for compensation. Rather, it uses the "extraordinary circumstances" and "reasonable measures" tests. One could easily make the argument that bad weather in Greenland is not an extraordinary circumstance and therefore the airline could have taken reasonable measures to mitigate the impact on the passengers (such as rescheduling the flight to a time of day with better weather forecasts).

1
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