Iceland has been one of the most successful countries fighting against COVID: the number of infected people had been below 10 for a month on the day I was flying and nobody had died because of the coronavirus for two months. The Faroe Islands have performed even better: zero positive cases for two months now and zero fatalities due to COVID altogether. When Iceland opened its borders for intra-Schengen travel on 15th June, the Faroe Islands started to allow people who reside in Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Denmark and Germany into the country and Atlantic Airways started to fly between Keflavík and Vágar I decided to go very quickly – I needed to go because of work anyway. The condition to enter the Faroe Islands, other than residing in the above countries, was to have a negative COVID test certificate. Iceland on the other hand screened at the border upon arrival – except people coming from Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
The Faroes Islands used to be difficult to access even by plane for many years. This small country of 52,000 people is located between Norway, Scotland and Iceland has difficult terrain on all its 17 inhabited islands. An airport was built by the British occupying forces on the island of Vágar in 1942 but it was disused after the war and reopened only in 1963. Atlantic Airways started regular flights to Copenhagen in 1988 using four-engine British Aerospace 146 aircrafts. Approach has been legendary difficult with mountains all around; low ceiling and almost zero visibility most of the time; and a short runway of 1250 m only. Even going from the airport to Tórshavn (located on a different island) was not easy as passengers had to take a ferry until a 5 km long tunnel was opened in 2002. The runway was extended to 1800 m in 2011 and Atlantic Airways was able to switch to A319s and A320s.
Please note that what you read here about the airport and the flight reflects only the day I was flying. Things can change very quickly: regulations and services can be completely different on the day you read this.
The huge car park at Keflavík airport was almost completely empty. The Atlantic Airways’ flight was the only one during this time of the day.
The terminal was also almost completely empty.
Zero wait at check-in (where the negative COVID test was not checked).
Almost all shops and cafés were closed.
Only a few employees and passengers wore a mask (which nobody else does in Iceland, except maybe in hospitals).
Boarding was completed at 15.50.
Atlantic Airways’ A320 neo has a standard single-class, 3+3 configuration. Legroom is good for seat 1F.
There were only about 40 to 50 passengers onboard. Around half of them had a face mask on and the remaining half were given one.
Push-back was at 16.00 for a scheduled departure of 16.10. The view during taxi:
We took off from runway 19 at 16.07.
View of the village of Grindavík near the Blue Lagoon.
The seatbelt signs were turned off soon – and nothing happened. No onboard service during COVID times; otherwise there’s a buy-on-board service. When I first flew Atlantic Airways in 2004 the airline was offering small bottles of alcohol in large numbers to the passengers – in a country where alcohol was otherwise difficult to buy.
The South Coast of Iceland:
This was a short flight. As the captain announced the start of descent he asked the passengers to wait for the cabin crew's instructions before disembarking.
Approach was through the clouds with heavy turbulences and very low visibility. The first view of the Faroes Islands was a very short time before landing.
We landed at 18.17.
As we entered the modern and rather large terminal building the police checked if the passengers had the right to enter the Faroes Islands (Faroese returning home; residents of Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway or Germany; or foreign workers with a work permit) and if they had a negative COVID test. Those who didn’t were tested on the spot at the airport. I received a text message later confirming that all passengers have been tested negative.
Click below on Bonus to see what the Faroe Islands look like
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The Faroe Islands have 17 inhabited and over 763 other smaller islands. The Queen of Denmark is the head of the state, the Faroese hold a Danish passport, Denmark controls defence, finances and justice, but there’s a Faroes parliament, prime minister, internet code, football team and licence plate.
The harbour of Klaksvík, the second largest town
The only brewery in the Faroe Islands
The church in Klaksvík
The football stadium
The Ocean at Gjógv
The harbour in Tórshavn
Ship repairing in Tórshavn
The road to Tjørnuvík
The fjord near Tjørnuvík
A typical Faroes church at Saksun
Reykjavík - KEF
Faroe Islands - FAE
This flight was not about luxury onboard service but about being able to fly again after COVID.
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