Greenland’s New Nuuk Airport Opening In Late 2024

Greenland’s New Nuuk Airport Opening In Late 2024

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Greenland is a fascinating destination that doesn’t actually see that many tourists. That’s for a variety of reasons, including that there’s only so much capacity in terms of accommodations. On top of that, flying to Greenland has historically been rather complex. That will be changing soon, as we’re within a year of the country’s major new international airport opening.

Greenland’s capital is getting a new airport

Air Greenland is the flag carrier of Greenland, and the airline operates a fleet consisting primarily of one Airbus A330-800neo and seven De Havilland Canada Dash 8-200s. The carrier’s longest route is to Copenhagen. The catch is that while Nuuk is Greenland’s capital and most populous city, that’s not where the wide body jet flies to.

Instead, Air Greenland operates the A330-800neo between Kangerlussuaq Airport (SJF) and Copenhagen Airport (CPH). Kangerlussuaq is a small town, but the reason that the service is operated to there is because the airport has one of the only runways in Greenland big enough to handle larger jets.

Greenland has been working on changing that, by expanding Nuuk Airport (GOH). The most significant development is that the runway is being expanded, and will be soon be 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) long and 45 meters (147 feet) wide, making it big enough for the A330 to fly there. As a point of comparison, the airport’s runway is currently only 930 meters (3,051 feet) long, so it’ll more than double in length.

Air Greenland will be able to fly the A330 to Nuuk

There’s now an updated timeline for the new Nuuk Airport terminal opening. As reported by Aviation Week, the airport operator has announced an opening date of November 28, 2024. Much of the advancements should already be open before then, with the new terminal building expected to be operational as of May 2024, just without the full runway.

Nuuk is getting a new international airport

What are the practical implications of this new airport?

Air Greenland’s plan is to eventually switch its A330 operations from Kangerlussuaq to Nuuk. This has huge implications:

  • It will greatly simplify travel to & from Greenland for many visitors, and eliminate a connection, given that Kangerlussuaq was mainly just an airport that people transited
  • Not only will this new airport shorten travel time, but previously any sort of bad weather would mean travelers would be stuck, while that should be less of an issue going forward
  • Obviously this has a major impact on the small town of Kangerlussuaq, since much of the air service there is intended to connect to Air Greenland’s other services within Greenland

Air Greenland’s CEO explains what a challenge this move will be:

“It is preparing for the new infrastructure, both geographically — as we need to change the hub — and physically, as we need to relocate people and equipment. Additionally, it is getting ready with new equipment, processes, routines, procedures, products and schedules — essentially everything.”

Meanwhile the director of Greenland’s airports had the following to say:

“We are confident that the airport will be a game changer, not only for Nuuk but for the entire country.”

I’m curious if we see any major new expansion based on this airport change. You’d think that this would stimulate more tourism, though admittedly there are also some challenges. Air Greenland doesn’t have any additional aircraft on order, and ultimately most tourism is going to be seasonal, so it’s hard to make that profitable, short of operating flights with leased aircraft.

In the summer of 2024, we’ll see Air Greenland return to Canada, with a new 513-mile turboprop flight from Nuuk to Iqaluit, connecting Greenland to the Canadian Arctic. With Nuuk soon being capable of handling jets, it sure would be awesome to see Air Greenland fly to New York, or something.

Nuuk will see more than just turboprops

Bottom line

Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, is getting a new international airport. There’s now an official opening timeline, as the airport is expected to open in November 2024. The biggest improvement with this new airport is that it features a much longer runway, so it will be able to accommodate jets. With this, the A330-800neo will eventually be moved from Kangerlussuaq to Nuuk, which should represent a much easier travel experience for most.

What changes do you think we’ll see to air transport in Greenland once the new Nuuk International Airport opens?

Conversations (21)
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  1. Zymm Guest

    Nuuk has significantly worse weather than Kangerlussaq, and connections to other towns in Greenland are still on smaller planes. When I was stuck in Illulissat this summer the general consensus was that tourists using the new airport in Nuuk would actually be subject to more weather delays due to weather in Nuuk when it would be possible to fly in or out of Kangerlussaq. We'll see how this actually plays out

    1. Matt Guest

      You're missing the point that you'd then be stuck in Kangerlussaq. There's nothing there. And weather in Nuuk is vastly better.

  2. Grady Moran Guest

    The title is a misnomer. This is the same airport that Nuuk currently uses. The runway was lengthened and the terminal was upgraded. While a lot of the impetus was to expand tourism, there are still two problems. First, there aren't enough hotels in Nuuk to handle more tourists (and the prices are high). Second, there really isn't that much to do in Nuuk. After a day and a half you run out of option unless you want to pay to for a boat ride or airplane flight.

  3. Daniel Guest

    Im not sure the sole A300-800 of Air Greenland can take-off from Nuuk, despite the extension, is 2200 meter not below the min required runway length for this type?

  4. DavidM Guest

    Hey Ben, you might want to check your math on the runway expansion. 2200 meters is over 7200 feet, not 6500. Might make a difference if landing a wet or snowy day. Now, if Greenland can start working on their limited hotel accommodations...

  5. Wolfe Guest

    Please don‘t add new york, we dont want Murican Karens

  6. Jason Guest

    People flying the new Nuuk - Iqaluit route will get new airports on both ends! Iqaluit's new terminal opened in 2017.

  7. vic Guest

    You'd think Greenland would be a bit more green.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Greenland is covered with ice, and Iceland is very nice!

      great movie.

  8. Antonio Guest

    I could also see this new airport receiving many flight diversions of flights traveling between North America and Europe. Obviously any IROP is bad, but would diverting be preferable to returning to the origin?

    1. Samo Guest

      Depends on the nature of the IROPs. If you just need to land somewhere for an hour or two and then continue, sure. But if it seems unlikely you will be able to continue, then landing somewhere with very limited hotel capacity isn't the best idea.

  9. Marcus Guest

    How long before Emirates flies DXB to Nuuk!

  10. Ben L. Diamond

    Kangerlussuaqheads in absolute shambles right now

  11. Ole Guest

    Not sure why you feel traveling to Greenland is complicated. There are two options:
    1. Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq or Air Greenland
    2. Keflavik to Nuuk/Ilulissat/Sisimiut and couple other airports on Iceland Air.

    TBH, Iceland is very well connected to Greenland and Air Greenland provides excellent connectivity within Greenland both direct and with stops.

    It is expensive and limited options but it’s definitely not complicated.

    1. nazilam Guest

      Agree - with this. Its not that complicated. If you want to go further afield, I think you'll have to fly in Kang. to fly up further into Greenland. Don't discount taking the ferry - it is an amazing experience if you learn to be flexible and dont' expect a seabourne/four seasons resort experience.

  12. Thomas Guest

    Air Greenland is in the process of evaluating to either long term lease or buy a new aircraft (either a Boeing or Airbus narrowbody jet) or “Mini Tuukkaq” that will operate a morning departure from Nuuk and afternoon/evening departure from Copenhagen. This will greatly improve connections to/from flights in CPH

  13. O'Hare Is My Second Home Guest

    That opening date just happens to be my 60th birthday. Attending the opening would be one of the most unusual options I can think of to celebrate.

  14. betterbub Diamond

    Gotta feel for the people of Kangerlussuaq, hopefully Nuuk's new airport has jobs for all of them if they wish

    1. NedsKid Guest

      Yeah, I just read this last week that Kangerlussuaq only has about 500 residents and most of them have something to do with the airport (or the hotel originally built by SAS there). I wonder if this includes relocating their homes.

    2. Ole Guest

      Actually people like living in Kangerlussuaq. It is also a stop on many Greenland cruises plus the only place with very easy access to the Greenland Ice Sheet and not to mention the starting point for the Arctic Circle trail. So settlement isn’t going anywhere.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jason Guest

People flying the new Nuuk - Iqaluit route will get new airports on both ends! Iqaluit's new terminal opened in 2017.

1
TravelCat2 Gold

Obvious A380 destination.

1
Matt Guest

You're missing the point that you'd then be stuck in Kangerlussaq. There's nothing there. And weather in Nuuk is vastly better.

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