Country’s national airline also provides charter flights, utility ops using helicopters.
While its name evokes images of lush green pastures and forests, Greenland is actually a vast glacier and a snow-covered, challenging landscape. Nuuk, Greenland–based Air Greenland has built a strong business around tackling this rugged environment. The country’s national airline, the company provides scheduled passenger service, charter flights, utility operations, and tours using jet airliners, regional turboprops, seaplanes, small fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters.
History and Background
Air Greenland was established in 1960 as Grønlandsfly (Greenland Airlines) by SAS and Øresund to supply the US Air Force’s Distant Early Warning Line radar stations in Sisimiut and Kulusuk. Its first aircraft were a Douglas DC-4 from Iceland and two Sikorsky S-55s from Canada.
The company soon took over wet-lease agreements from Dutch company KGH, which had been responsible for Greenland’s air service since 1958. With these new agreements, the company added Consolidated PBY Catalina and de Havilland Otter seaplanes.
In 1965, the company began acquiring S-61s and became one of the first airlines in the world to fly passengers by helicopter, later becoming one of the largest helicopter passenger networks. Heliports were built in six cities to accommodate the aircraft.
Over the years, Greenland Airlines grew and expanded its airline, charter, and tour operations, proving itself a capable and resourceful arctic operator by providing reliable services in harsh weather and conditions.
In 2002, the company changed its name to Air Greenland and unveiled its current red design with snow flower branding. In 2019, all investors were bought out, making the company 100% Greenland government owned.
Helicopter Fleet and Services
Last year, Air Greenland announced a helicopter fleet renewal and signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for the acquisition of nine H125s, the first of which is scheduled for delivery in mid-2023, beginning the phaseout of older AS350 helicopters. In an announcement about the sale, Air Greenland officials emphasized that the purchase was part of a larger fleet strategy.
“In short, it is about Air Greenland having up-to-date and future-proof equipment for the tasks it performs in society,” says Bodil Marie Damgaard, Air Greenland’s board chair. “Investments have been made in new aircraft for ambulance flights and for the Atlantic route, as well as in new helicopters for rescue services and for flying in the service contract areas.”
The new H125 helicopters will primarily fly charter missions throughout the country in connection with mineral exploration and tourism.
“Charter is an important part of Air Greenland’s business, and in the future we want to continue to be attractive for charter work in the tourism and minerals sectors,” Damgaard explains. “It is therefore vital that we remain competitive in delivering the best overall product in the future, and the new H125 helicopters are an important element of this [plan].”
Air Greenland also operates H155s and H225s.