Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday announced that it will close its service to the Faroe Islands. The decision is made as the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a collapse in air travel demand. On top of this, flight carriers will have to pay for the mandatory passenger Covid-19 test at the airport on Vágar island from 1 October.
Unspoiled nature and fresh air has pushed the Faroe Islands on many travellers' bucket list. Going down from two to only one carrier will make it more difficult to visit Faroe Islands. Photo by @p_kuzovkova on Instagram.
Guðrið Højgaard, Director of Visit Faroe Islands, the official tourist board of the Faroe Islands, says that this is a huge setback for Faroe Islands tourism. The Scandinavian airline company's announcement will lead to a substantial financial loss for the only airport in the Faroe Islands according to Regin I. Jacobsen, CEO of Vágar Airport.
The Faroe Islands opened up again on 15 June after three months of lockdown in order to stop the virus from spreading. Passenger planes started flying again more frequently after the ban on entry for non-residents was repealed. Now air travel to the Faroe Islands will be very different. The locally owned Atlantic Airways will be the only airline company operating in the Faroe Islands.
Coronavirus is largely under control in the Faroe Islands because every single passenger gets tested on arrival. However, passenger enthusiasm towards flying has waned.
SAS started its operation between Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands in March 2017. This marked a new era for travellers to the Faroe Islands. Atlantic Airways got competition for the first time in ten years, and since SAS entered the market, Atlantic Airways has dropped its prices 40 percent.
Tourism in the Faroe Islands has been on the rise in recent years. The passenger number at the only airport in the Faroe Islands, Vágar airport, reached record high 424,281 passengers in 2019. This is more than double that of 2011.
The slump in travel demand is likely to last for a long time. The Prime Minister in the Faroe Islands, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, said to local television that the industry will hopefully recover soon and that SAS will start flying again to the windswept Faroe Islands when the tourist season starts in April, 2021.
An anonymous source has said to Guide to Faroe Islands that Scandinavian Airlines has carried 80 percent of all foreign travellers to the Faroe Islands. The tourism industry in the Faroe Islands will surely face a challenging future.