Thursday, April 9, 2015

Faroe Islands 2015 Stamp Issue
Vágar Airport

 :: THEME: Vágar Airport
  :: NOMINAL VALUE: 8.50 DKK, 15 DKK 
   :: ISSUE DATE: 23 February 2015
    :: STAMP DESIGN: A.E. Petersen
     :: PHOTOS: J.H. Hansen

Vágar Airport - New Terminal 
On June 18, 2014, the new terminal at Vágar Airport opened. A modern monument in steel and glass, adapted to the special Faroese topography. According to the architects behind the project, it is the story of the airport, which has inspired the design of the building. The large arched roofs are a tribute to the military barracks of the British troops, who built the airport during World War II. The large open glass panels towards the runway create the impression of travel and wide open spaces.

The terminal building consists basically of two sections. An outer hall where outgoing passengers arrive at the airport - and a major closed arrival- and departure hall behind the check-in and security desks. In contrast to the old terminal, which had a fairly limited duty-free area, the new arrival- and departure section is spacious and open, with duty-free shops and café for the travelers.

The new terminal is the second project in the expansion, which started in 2007, when the Faroese authorities took over the airport from the Danish Civil Aviation Administration. The first project was to extend the then 1,250 m long runway to 1,800 meters - and to install a modern ILS inflight system, so airplanes could land in all kinds of weather. The extension of the runway was finished in 2011 and has made a significant increase of the capacity of the airport, which can now accommodate larger aircrafts and provide improved punctuality and safety.

Because of the extension of the runway, the Faroese airline, Atlantic Airways, could deploy larger aircraft on the route Vágar - Copenhagen and create new destinations elsewhere in Europe. The company purchased an Airbus 319 in 2011 and within a year there two more planes of the same type. The Airbus airplanes have improved travel comfort and the capacity considerably and cut down on travel time between Vágar Airport and various destinations.

Brief history of the airport 
As mentioned above, it were the British occupiers, who in 1942 began to build an airport in the Faroe Islands. It was decided to place it close to the village Sørvágur on Vágar, among other reasons because of the large lake Leitisvatn nearby, where seaplanes also were able to land.

The original plans included an airport with three runways. But the work was delayed and when the first runway was completed in the autumn of 1943, the strategic advantage of an air base in the Faroes had changed. The airport got only the one runway and when the RAF in September 1944 left the base, they delivered it as a gift to the Faroese people. The runway was then 1096 m long.

After the war there was a certain interest in a regular route to and from the Faroe Islands. In 1946 a company called “Føroya Flogfelag" was established, and started a route to and from Copenhagen, via Prestwich in Scotland, with a leased DC-3 aircraft. This first attempt, which started July 1, stopped again in September the same year because of financial problems. In December 1946, the company purchased a new aircraft for the route. But after only three days, the plane was damaged and could not be repaired.

After these failed attempts, the airport was deserted for many years. But in 1963, the Icelandic company "Flugfélag Islands" started a regular route between the Faroe Islands, Denmark and Iceland. Some improvements were made to the runway and a house with flight-tower was built, which also served as terminal. In addition, a small fire station was placed at the airport.

In the early seventies, the Danish company, Maersk Air, started regular scheduled flights between Vágar and Copenhagen. In 1978-80 the runway was extended from 1100 to 1250 meters, so Maersk Air could introduce jet aircrafts on the route.

In 1988 the Faroese Company Atlantic Airways started to fly on the route between Vágar and Copenhagen with a purchased Bae 146 plane - and the same year they constructed a new terminal at the airport. Atlantic Airways gradually expanded their fleet of airplanes and became the only company on the route in 2004, when Maersk Air ceased their flight to the Faroe Islands.

In 2007, the Faroes took over responsibility from the Danish aviation authorities. The runway was extended, as already mentioned, the ILS system was installed and the new terminal was built. 
author: Anker Eli Petersen

stamp images and description thanks to:

ISSUE DATE: 23 February 2015
A. E. Petersen
J.H. Hansen
STAMP SIZE: 30 mm x 40 mm
PRINTER: Cartor Security Printing, France