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How to get around Greenland

Air Greenland do an amazing job. With daily schedules full of flights all over Greenland, it really is more of a bus service due to the distances travelled and regularity. The reason that they are so great however is how they manage to keep flying in the most challenging of conditions. In the past other airlines have tried to operate services across the country, before later bowing out of the competition due to the number of delays that impacted on their wider schedules. This leaves Air Greenland as the only operator providing internal flights around this wonderful island.

The fact that they keep this essential transport going not only benefits the residents but also gives opportunity for tourism to grow. Air Greenland provide the quickest and most regular mode of transport across the island. I was really impressed with the service but my advice for any travel planning is to build in contingency time for the flights. Timescales are quite flexible for numerous reasons, so you should plan for a potential delay. I didn’t plan any activities for the days that had flights, and this proved to be worthwhile.

Air Greenland Airbus 330 at Kangerlussuaq Airport

Flights to Greenland are from either Iceland or Denmark and you can only fly to Kangerlussuaq. This sole international airport has just two gates and one runway, the baggage carousel is wonderfully cute, and there is no immigration desk as it is all dealt with prior to departure. It is a refreshingly easy arrival in a new land. Air Greenland’s fleet consists of one Airbus 330 for their services to Reykjavik and Copenhagen, numerous smaller Dash 8s and a variety of helicopters. The 37-seater Dash 8s became very familiar to me as I travelled around. The Flight Attendants work so hard and complimentary drinks and biscuits are provided on every journey.

Kangerlussuaq Airport International Arrivals

To give some insight in to how the conditions affect the transport around the island, here is a summary of the flights that I took and what I experienced:

Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq

Really smooth flight and all ran to schedule. Total journey time: 4 hours 40 minutes

Kangerlussuaq to Ilulissat

Flight departed on time and was due to be 45 minutes. The visibility over Ilulissat was too poor to land, we circled for 20 minutes before having to turn back to Kangerlussuaq for re-fuelling. Staff explained that we would wait for the cloud to shift and that the next attempt should work. After 30 minutes wait, the flight resumed and with approximately 5 minutes of circling, successfully landed. The snow was thick, but the landing was so smooth. Total journey time: 4 hours

Ilulissat to Nuuk

The wind was incredibly strong on the day that I was due to fly, uncharacteristic to the weather I had experienced during my stay. The plane that I was to catch had not arrived due to this, for the 1 hour 25-minute flight. There was a 3 ½ hour delay before the plane arrived and I was able to board. Due to the delay, other flights had to be combined and therefore the flight called in at Aasiaat before taking off again and finally landing in Nuuk. Total journey time: 6 hours

Air Greenland Dash at Kangerlussuaq Airport

Nuuk to Kangerlussuaq

Really smooth flight and all ran to schedule. Total journey time: 55 minutes

Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen

The Airbus 330’s door developed a fault and was taken out of service the day before I was due to fly. Air Greenland had to organise a replacement plane which resulted in a 24 hour delay for all transport in and out of Greenland. They arranged food and accommodation in the attached hotel for all those delayed. The re-scheduled flight flew to schedule but those are the trials of only having one Airbus 330 in your fleet. Total journey time: 24 hours

Air Greenland flight view from window

3/5 of my flights experienced disruption due to the extreme climate and small fleet but these delays only go to demonstrate how fluid you have to be with your plans in Greenland. I built in a contingency day at the end of the adventure as I had read about the challenges that are faced in the arctic climate. Definitely use Air Greenland, they provide an excellent level of service and they take you to see some exquisite areas that you can simply not see easily in any other way.


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