Greenland, pt. 2 – Airports.

Kangerlussuaq. Probably the strangest international airport in the world. First off, try pronouncing it properly. Hardly slips off the tongue now does it? I had trouble with it too.

Next there’s its geographic and demographic strangeness…

Have you ever seen an international hub airport with a local population of just 500 folks? Not 500,000 – 500! Well, now I have :).

And have you ever seen an airport where for domestic flights there are no security checks whatsoever?! In you stroll, you check in, hand over your luggage, and then you can go walkabout – wherever, including back outside the airport! When your plane’s due you walk to it from wherever you are with no security hassle. A dream!

Ok. Here’s the answer to question No. 2:

Greenland is a very rocky country, and a very glacial one. So building an airport – where you need a good stretch of flat land for the runway itself plus no rockiness in the near vicinity to get in the way of airplanes’ coming in to land and taking off – is no easy task. They did find one spot however that was deemed suitable – Kangerlussuaq: a freak bit of flat bedrock sufficiently far away from the nearest cliffs. The only problem: the runway is a mere 2.8km long!

To compare: Sheremetyevo – 3.5/3.7km; Domodedovo – 3.8km (the longest runway in Russia); Heathrow – 3.9km; Hong Kong – a little shorter than Heathrow; Singapore – 4km! Hmmm. Curious topic. I wonder where the world’s longest runway is… So I looked it up. It’s in China!

We flew out of Greenland’s only international airport, and not long after understood how it is indeed truly ‘international’ – relatively speaking: the domestic flights-only airports of Nuuk and Ilulissat are a mere 0.95km and 0.845km long, respectively!

Turns out pilots need special licenses to be able to fly in and out of such tiny airports (in normally harsh climatic conditions). Quite right too!

Our next stop – Nuuk.

But first – I’ve another question for you:

Question No. 3

All air passengers on any plane in the world both board and leave the plane through the left-hand door, if looking forward. Always. And even if it’s more logical to open the door to the right (if there is one), like in this case:


Sometimes passengers are let out/in through the rear/mid-door(s) too (discounters do this – so boarding/disembarking is quicker). And if it’s an Airbus-380, they open the upper level’s door too. But always only ever the left doors.


I’ll give you the answer in tomorrow’s post, still form sunny Greenland…

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