In 1941 the British army officer Leo Maxton
searched by plane the Faroe Islands for the most suitable place to
build an airport. This was during World War II and the British
needed an airport in the North Atlantic. Maxton came to the
conclusion that the most suitable place to build the airport was in
Vágar and his advice was followed.
The first plane landed at this airport in the autumn of 1942.
After the war, when the British army had left Vágar, air traffic
decreased to almost nothing.
In fact air traffic didn't resume until 1963,
when Iceland started a regular passenger route between the Faroes
and Denmark. Initially a DC/3 plane was used but as demand
increased, newer and better planes were assigned to this route.
Discussion about establishing an airline company
began in the 1980s. Passenger numbers were steadily increasing and
there was no competition on this route. There was only the one
airline that had regular flights to the Faroes.
In 1987 the idea became reality and, in November,
Atlantic Airways was established. In the beginning Cimber Air owned
shares in the company, but later on the Faroese government took
After considerable thought, the management chose a British
Aerospace plane. This plane holds 92 passengers and is thought to
be very well suited for the Faroese route.
On 28th March 1988 Faroese people were able for
the first time to fly from Vágar to Copenhagen with their new
Faroese airline company.
The aim of the airline company, which many predicted would have a
short life, was to build up a Faroese aviation industry on a
commercial basis and to ensure the FaroeIslands a good, up-to-date
air connection with the outside world. Furthermore, the company
aimed to improve the existing level of service.
In order to have its home base in the Faroes, it
was necessary that technical maintenance facilities were available.
This was made possible when the government built a hangar in Vágar
which the company rents.
In 1995 Atlantic Airways took the first step
towards establishing regular flights to the neighbouring country,
Iceland, and started to fly in co-operation with
Since 1997 Atlantic Airways has also been flying first to Aarhus
and now Billund in Denmark.
In 2007 Atlantic Airways is operating seven BAe RJ/146 aircraft,
flying from the Faroe Islands to Copenhagen, Billund and Aalborg,
to Aberdeen and London, to Stavanger and Oslo and to Reykjavík.
From London to Shetland, from Reykjavík to Narsarrsuaq and numerous
charter operations all over Europe.
The infrastructure in the Faroe Islands is good
with good road and sea connections between the villages. Nowadays,
there is also a domestic air service but that has not always been
In the 1960s the Danish coast guard vessels, patrolling the waters
around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, were equipped with
helicopters. These helicopters were primarily meant for military
duty but from time to time they also undertook other tasks such as
flying equipment for farmers etc. It soon became apparent that a
helicopter was a convenient tool. In the summer of 1978 a
helicopter was hired for certain tasks and as a result of this
there was a lot of interest in establishing a public helicopter
This was soon to become a reality. Early in the
1980s an agreement was made between the Faroese government and a
foreign helicopter company to trial one of their helicopters in the
This experience was so successful that it was decided to establish
a Faroese helicopter department. This came to fruition in 1984.
Initially, the helicopter department was part of Strandfaraskip
Landsins but as times changed it was considered best to put all
Faroese aviation in one company. So this led, in the spring of
1994, to the helicopter department becoming part of Atlantic
Atlantic Helicopters has 2 helicopters, One Bell 212 mainly to
serve the schedule flights to the isolated islands, and for
chartered operations and one Bell 412 specialy equipped for search
and rescue in faroese territory.