2024 KEF Forecast: Passenger Surge and Seasonal Balance

Almost 8.5 million passengers are expected to travel through Keflavík Airport (KEF) next year, according to the airport's passenger forecast for 2024.


Almost 8.5 million passengers are expected to travel through Keflavík Airport (KEF) next year, according to the airport's passenger forecast for 2024. The forecast predicts that nearly 2.4 million foreign tourists will arrive in Iceland through the airport. If the projection holds, 2024 will mark the third-largest year in KEF's history, and the highest number of foreign tourists arriving in Iceland.

"We look forward to welcoming more guests next year. Our recent investments in airport development have started to yield results, offering improved facilities for passengers and staff," says Guðmundur Daði Rúnarsson, Director of Business and Development at Isavia. "The forecast also indicates that there will be a more proportionate increase in the number of passengers, including foreign tourists visiting Iceland, during the winter months as compared to the summer months. This will contribute to a more balanced and year-round utilization of the airport and Iceland's tourism infrastructure in general."

Passenger Growth by 9.6% Year-on-Year

The 2024 KEF Passenger Forecast anticipates 8.49 million passengers travelling through KEF, representing a 9.6% increase from the 7.74 million travellers in the current year. Only twice before have passenger numbers exceeded this level: 8.8 million in 2017 and 9.8 million in 2018. During the summer months, 25 airlines will operate scheduled flights to 82 destinations, and 20 airlines will serve 69 destinations during the winter months.

When considering the months classified as winter months by KEF (January, February, March, November, and December), passenger numbers are expected to grow by 15.2% or 354 thousand. During the summer months (April to October), passenger numbers are projected to increase by 391 thousand, representing a 7.2% year-on-year rise.

The forecast projects that transit passengers will account for approximately 30% of the total passenger count next year, compared to around 27% in the current year. This indicates a higher percentage of passengers using KEF as a connecting hub without staying in Iceland. The highest percentage of connecting passengers was observed in 2018 at around 40%.

More Increase of Foreign Tourists during the Winter Months

In addition to the passenger forecast, a projection was made for the number of foreign tourists arriving in Iceland through KEF next year. It is expected that nearly 2.38 million foreign tourists will visit Iceland. This is approximately 60 thousand more than in 2018 when 2.32 million tourists arrived, marking the highest number of foreign tourists to date. In 2023 year, approximately 2.21 million tourists visited Iceland, and the forecast therefore expects a 7.3% increase year-on-year. According to the forecast, about 93 thousand more tourists will arrive during the winter months next year, representing a 13.4% year-on-year increase. During the summer months, an additional 68 thousand tourists are expected, reflecting a 4.5% increase.

KEF - Constantly Evolving

KEF Airport is in a state of continuous evolution, with a focus on enhancing airport facilities to provide superior service for customers, and an even better experience for guests. This year, the first phase of the east wing, a new terminal extension, was put into operation, featuring a more spacious baggage hall and a more efficient baggage system. A new taxiway also opened, reducing aircraft waiting times, and improvements to the arrival facilities for non-Schengen passengers were launched.

"In the second half of 2024, the east wing will be fully operational, with construction commencing in mid-2021. This phase will include new boarding gates, as well as an expanded area for shops and restaurants," says Guðmundur Daði. "These developments will enable us to accommodate the growing number of passengers more effectively and provide better facilities for our employees and business partners. All of this contributes to an enhanced service and experience for passengers, strengthening the airport's competitiveness."

About Passenger Forecasts

The 2024 KEF Passenger Forecast is based on an analysis and evaluation of factors influencing passenger demand for flights to and from the airport. The forecast relies on information about handling times secured by airlines, data from KEF Airport's systems, and updates on airline plans.

Passenger numbers are categorized into three sections, encompassing departing and arriving passengers, as well as connecting passengers. Departing passengers are those departing from the airport after a stay in Iceland, arriving passengers are those arriving to stay in Iceland, and connecting passengers use KEF as a transit hub, changing to another flight without entering the country. Connecting passengers are counted both on arrival and departure.