Take a small group of eighteen rugged, remote islands, called the Faroe Islands, located in the North Atlantic about halfway between Denmark and Iceland. Travelling anywhere can be a bit of a problem given the vast ocean which surrounds them, create an island airline and you have Atlantic Airways.
You could not call Atlantic Airways one of the world’s great airlines. Given that the entire Faroe population is less than 50,000 they simply don’t have enough people to sustain a large airline, but what they do have in Atlantic Airways is an interesting airline which continues to expand.
The airline is based at Vagar Airport, which is on the Faroese island of Vagar. The airport itself is interesting because it was originally built during World War II and its site was chosen because the airport is hard to spot from the sea. After the war, the airport lay dormant and fell into disrepair, until services to Iceland commenced in 1963. Since then, the airport has been improved and the runway lengthened so that now jet aircraft can land and take off safely.
Atlantic Airways currently has four aircraft, two Airbus A319s and two Avro models. The airline offers flights to 59 destinations but most of these are code share with other carriers and Atlantic Airways aircraft don’t actually service the complete trip. Seven of those destinations are in Denmark, as the Faroe Islands come under the sovereignty of Denmark, but other countries serviced by the airline include Norway, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom and five cities in the U.S.A.
Given the size of the population, that is a very extensive network, although very few of the destinations are actually served on a daily basis, with Copenhagen in Denmark being the primary destination.
Because there is only one airport in the country, Atlantic Airways also has a helicopter department which is used mainly to service the Faroe Islands group and for other uses such as search and rescue. Atlantic Helicopters has two aircraft, One Bell 212 which serves the schedule flights to the isolated islands, and for chartered operations and one Bell 412 that is specially equipped for search and rescue in Faroese territory.
The airline not only has scheduled services, but does charter work also for Danish tour operators who offer package tours.
Because the Faroes are so remote, Atlantic Airways has invested heavily in navigation technology and has been winning awards for its pioneering work in introducing the latest navigation technology to European commercial aviation.