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Rendering of Nuuk Airport (image: Kalaallit Airports)

Greenland approves airport plan to boost tourism

Two airports will be massively upgraded in the controversial plan, while another will be built from scratch.

Greenland’s parliament has approved a plan to upgrade or build airports that serve the island, stressing the need to attract more tourists to its Arctic wilderness, the news agency AFP reports.

Two airports, in the capital Nuuk and in the tourist destination of Ilulissat, will be massively upgraded, making it possible to fly direct to Greenland from both Europe and North America.

Meanwhile there will be a new national airport for the autonomous Danish territory in Qaqortoq in the south.

The plans, with a price-tag of at least DKK 3.6 billion (€482 million), have been controversial due to Copenhagen’s direct financial involvement. Denmark will take care of almost 20% of the financing.

The vote secures 2,200 metres of runway at the airports of Nuuk and Ilulissat on the west coast, while the new airport in Qaqortoq will get 1,500 metres.

One finished, Atlantic flights will go direct to Nuuk and Ilulissat, not to Kangerlussuaq or Narsarsuaq as is the case today in combination with domestic flights.

A Chinese company has been selected as one of several that are prequalified to do the construction work, and many fear this will give the Chinese a foothold in Greenland.

Others among the population of 55,000 people, who are spread out across an area that is more than four times the size of France, complain they will remain isolated.

Opportunities
The project plunged Greenland into a three-week political crisis in September, with an independence-supporting party quitting the government coalition in protest at Copenhagen’s heavy involvement.

“We are creating lots of opportunities for Greenland’s future. We are not selling out,” assured Prime Minister Kim Kielsen during the parliamentary debate.

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