|Headquarters||Sørvágur, Faroe Islands|
Atlantic Airways (Nasdaq Iceland: FO-AIR, Faroese: Atlantsflog) is the national airline of the Faroe Islands, operating domestic helicopter services and international passenger services as well as search and rescue responsibilities from its base at Vágar Airport, on the Faroese island of Vágar. Most of its pilots are members of the Faroese Pilot Association.
Regular air links to the Faroes had been in operation since 1963, between the islands and Denmark. Although the airport at Vágar had been constructed by the British Army during World War II, air traffic to the islands was practically non-existent between the departure of the British and the start of services to Copenhagen. Calls for the creation of a Faroese airline company began in the early 1980s. Passenger numbers were steadily increasing and Danish carrier Maersk Air enjoyed the monopoly as the sole airline to serve the Faroe Islands.
As a result, Atlantic Airways was established in 1987, initially between the Faroese government (51%) and Danish airline Cimber Air (49%), though the Faroese government would assume full ownership in 1989. Flights commenced between Vágar and Copenhagen on 28 March 1988 using a British Aerospace BAe 146. A hangar was built at Vágar by the Faroese government in order to secure Atlantic Airways' home base in the Faroes, ensuring maintenance facilities were available on the islands.
The aim of the new airline company was to build up a Faroese aviation industry on a commercial basis and to ensure the Faroe Islands an air connection with the outside world. Flight crews and management were Faroese.
Though load factors were high and the new service was popular, Atlantic Airways had a turbulent beginning economically. The Faroe Islands suffered a severe economic depression in the early 1990s, and at its nadir in 1992, the Faroese government delivered 75 m DKK in aid to the ailing carrier. Atlantic Airways would not become profitable until 1995.
Flights were launched to Reykjavík in 1995 in co-operation with Air Iceland, and also to Narsarsuaq in Greenland in the summer months, in co-operation with Air Iceland. The latter half of the 1990s saw Billund in Denmark and Aberdeen in the UK added to Atlantic Airways' flight schedule.
The growing list of destinations and passenger numbers, together with the stabilisation of the airline's finances, saw a second BAe 146 added to the fleet in 2000. This new aircraft meant services to London (Stansted) in the UK and the Norwegian capital Oslo added to the network. Growth in tourism on the islands has also enabled flights to Aalborg, Stavanger, Stord and Edinburgh. However, for the 2006 season services to Stord have been discontinued, and Edinburgh replaced by the Shetland Islands. Atlantic Airways also entered the UK domestic market in 2006, becoming the only carrier to offer a direct service between Shetland and London, which it did on a twice weekly basis. The UK domestic operation ceased in 2008.
Atlantic Airways also operates a domestic service by helicopter, in many instances a vital connection to many of the islands, which otherwise can only be reached by sea. The helicopter has proved a vital tool on the islands since the 1960s, when helicopters from Danish coast guard vessels patrolling the Faroes undertook a variety of tasks, including ferrying equipment and supplies between the islands. The government hired a helicopter in 1978 for these tasks, but in the 1980s a commercial public helicopter service was launched linking each of the islands using two Bell 222 helicopters.
Initially, the helicopter service was a standalone company, SL Helicopters, but the decision to concentrate Faroese aviation into one firm led the helicopter department becoming part of Atlantic Airways in 1994. The helicopters provide a round trip 'hopper' service to each of the islands, which is also ideal for tourists looking for aerial views. The company is required to have at least one helicopter, operational and ready for search and rescue duties.
Over the last 5 years,[when?] Atlantic Airways has produced profits of between 8 and 13 million DKK. The company has increased its turnover from 120 million in 1998 to 520 million DKK in 2006. Atlantic Airways employed 177 people at January 2007.
Atlantic Airways was listed at the Iceland Stock Exchange on 10 December 2007.
The Faroese government has decided on a privatisation process and has sold off 33% of the company in the first bidding round. The first day of trading was 10 December 2007.
The first Airbus A319 for Atlantic Airways, registered OY-RCG, entered service in March 2012, with a modified livery. The runway at Vágar required an extension to properly accommodate this aircraft. The second and third Airbus 319s (OY-RCH and OY-RCI) entered service in May and October 2013 respectively. As the lease of these ran out by the end of 2016, only one was renewed while a brand new Airbus A320 was delivered.
In December 2018, the airline submitted an application for commercial services to the United States.
|Seasonal / Charter|
Atlantic Airways also operates charters for Danish tour operators to destinations such as Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, France, Scotland, Norway and the Czech Republic, out of Copenhagen Kastrup and Billund airports.
There is domestic helicopter service to the islands. The helicopters depart from Vágar Airport on Sunday, Monday (only in June, July August), Wednesday, and Friday.
The flights visit the capital Tórshavn and second largest town Klaksvík, the southern islands Skúvoy, Stóra Dímun, Suðuroy (Froðba), the northern islands Svínoy and Fugloy (Hattarvík and Kirkja), the western island Mykines, and the island Koltur.
As of August 2019, the Atlantic Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft:
The AgustaWestland AW139 is the only primary helicopter used for flights to district villages. With a capacity to seat 15 passengers, the helicopter is used to shuttle passengers in the Faroe Islands.
Media related to Atlantic Airways at Wikimedia Commons