Specialists in remote regions
Norlandair, an airline based in Akureyri, serves flights to Greenland and several smaller urban centers in Iceland. Norlandair is a valuable transportation service for the Arctic region, specializing in flights to remote locations and providing crucial support for research in the Arctic.
Flights to Greenland
Norlandair operates flights to Greenland throughout the year, primarily to Northeast Greenland, where it has multiple landing sites. However, conditions can change between landings due to weather, and the pilots must be prepared for such changes. Arnar Friðriksson, the sales and marketing manager of Norlandair, says that the company's employees are familiar with the less populated areas and are like "specialists in remote regions."
The company's clientele is relatively narrow, according to Arnar. Those who fly with Norlandair to Greenland are mainly scientists on research expeditions to East Greenland, as well as employees of companies searching for natural resources. They also provide flights for Danish military bases in East Greenland. Norlandair assists scientists on their research expeditions by accommodating their measurement equipment and cameras on the aircraft. "Sometimes we don't fully understand what the scientists are doing, but if you ask them, they explain it thoroughly," says Arnar with a laugh. As an example, Arnar mentions a German scientist who annually flies to Greenland to count lemmings. "He is so passionate about it, which is absolutely fantastic."
Most of Norlandair's operations revolve around the Greenland flights, while domestic flights account for approximately 30% of the company's activities. Domestically, Norlandair operates flights from Akureyri to Vopnafjörður, Þórshöfn, and Grímsey. They fly five times a week throughout the year to Vopnafjörður and Þórshöfn and three times a week to Grímsey in winter and twice a week in summer. When there is more demand from tourists, flights to Grímsey are increased. Arnar states that Grímsey has an incredible attraction due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle and puffins. The company also operates one aircraft in Reykjavík that flies to Bíldudalur six days a week and to Gjögur in Árneshreppur two days a week. Both communities are part of the Icelandic Regional Development Institute's project, "Sustainable Communities." Arnar says that the western flights have been well-utilized by the residents of Bíldudalur and for sheep transportation.
Akureyri as the headquarters of Norlandair
Norlandair was established on June 1, 2008, in Akureyri, but its history dates back further, even though Norlandair is only 13 years old. Its origins can be traced to Norðurflug, founded in 1959, which later became Flugfélag Norðurlands. In 1975, the airline began charter flights to Greenland, which forms the foundation of Norlandair's current operations.
When Flugfélag Íslands sold the Twin Otter aircraft located in Akureyri, several employees, along with Friðrik Adólfsson, took over the operation of the planes and established Norlandair. The goal of establishing Norlandair was to continue the extensive flight operations that Akureyri had been providing for decades.
"At Norlandair, we build on a long history and experience, particularly in the Greenland flights. Experience has shown that our location in Akureyri is highly favourable for air services to Greenland," says Arnar.
"At Norlandair, we build on a long history and experience, particularly in the Greenland flights. Experience has shown that our location in Akureyri is highly favorable for air services to Greenland."