Skip to main content

Environmental issues

Environmental policy

Hrönn Ingólfsdóttir, Director of Corporate Strategy & CSR  discusses Isavia's environmental policy

The environment

The company has spent considerable effort to make improvements in environmental issues while handling a significant rise in its scope and passenger numbers. Isavia thus strives to keep the negative environmental impact of its operations to a minimum in harmony with the community and passengers and to be, thereby, a part of a good journey.

Isavia established an environmental policy in 2015, and significant efforts have been spent on achieving the goals of the policy since that time. In the spring of 2018, an action plan in environmental and climate issues was approved and was subsequently revised and updated at the end of 2019. This plan set out various measures aimed at reducing the negative environmental impact of the company’s operations to achieve the company’s goals. This focuses on, among other things, the renewal of the company’s fleet of vehicles toward more environmentally friendly vehicles, increased waste sorting, the development of infrastructure for environmentally friendly vehicles and carbon off-setting.

This focuses on, among other things, the renewal of the company’s fleet of vehicles toward more environmentally friendly vehicles, increased waste sorting, the development of infrastructure for environmentally friendly vehicles and carbon off-setting.

Last year, Isavia began working together with Klappir Green Solutions on a data gateway which makes it easier to monitor important environmental factors such as fuel consumption, and waste classification was made more transparent. Problems with data connections to fuel companies, however, meant that the accounts for 2019 were originally incorrect, and the actual emissions proved to be greater than the initial results indicated. These results were used as the basis for goal setting and other actions. Isavia’s work to achieve its goals is, therefore, slightly more extensive than originally projected. Isavia will, however, continue to endeavour to improve its performance in environmental issues.

There have been no major pollution mishaps during the year, and no rulings have been passed where the company was considered to have violated environment legislation. A few minor fuel mishaps occurred during refills on the aprons at Keflavík Airport. These were minor leaks onto the tarmac and were cleaned up.


Isavia is conscious of the importance of preserving the freshness and cleanliness of the groundwater in the surrounding area. Verkís has overall responsibility for groundwater quality measurements at Keflavík Airport. Samples were taken in 2017, 2018 and, most recently, in March and November 2019. In the past, the US Army ran facilities in this area, and it is common knowledge that their operations led to a certain amount of pollution. Groundwater samples from all boreholes display traces of chemical use in the airport zone. These findings suggest varying levels of pollution but not to any great extent. The results of measurements show fluctuations in chemical content, although, pollution appears to be decreasing, but it is difficult to say for certain, as further measurements will be needed to confirm this. Isavia will, therefore, continue to take measurements and monitor the quality of groundwater.

Isavia obtains water from utilities at each site and has not reused or recycled water from airport areas. In recent years, Isavia has also improved wastewater drainage at international airports, which is commonly connected to municipal drainage systems. In 2016, work was carried out on refurbishing wastewater drainage from the west part of Keflavík Airport, which drains into the sea. A two-stage pumping and filter station was built at Djúpavík south of Stafnes in Sandgerði and a new and longer outlet laid out to sea. In other respects, Isavia uses the sewage system of the municipalities in which each workplace is located, and the recipient is in all cases the sea, although the level of sewage cleaning may differ. Oil separators and settlement ponds receive most of the polluting materials that otherwise would end up in the sewage system.

Isavia is conscious of the importance of preserving the freshness and cleanliness of the groundwater in the surrounding area

Use of chemicals

Isavia uses both natural and biodegradable chemicals at Iceland’s airports for the purposes of de-icing. Sand is used at domestic airports, except for 4,000 litres of de-icing material at Akureyri Airport. De-icing material is used at Keflavík Airport.

Isavia has been using Clearway F1 de-icing fluid and Clearway SF3 de-icing granules. De-icing substances are either based on sodium formate or potassium formate and bear the Blue Angel ecolabel. They are biodegradable and have a low toxicity effect on water. They meet all mandatory environmental and ecological requirements.

The use of de-icing materials has increased between years, which is attributable to some extent to the fact that the number of stands subject to winter services has increased due to the fact that there are a greater number of remote stands than before and also due to the weather.

Quantity of de-icing substances in airports GRI G4-A06

Clearway SF3 de-icing grains27 tonnes58 tonnes123 tonnes129 tonnes
Clearway F1 de-icing liquid54.300 litres79.959 litres216.000 litres438.000 litres

The Environment Agency Isavia airport zones are as diverse as regards ecosystems as they are numerous. The Reykjanes peninsula is a UNESCO Global Geopark and, as such, is of major significance as regards geological formations, some of which are unique. The best-known example thereto is probably how well one can see the plate boundaries of the Eurasian and North American plates. Although there are no geological formations at Keflavík Airport, it is certainly located in an extremely geologically important area.

For years, Isavia has been closely monitoring wildlife within airport areas and has analysed adjacent airport environments in terms of the presence of animals and birds. The appearance of wildlife varies greatly from airport to airport, as the respective areas differ in vegetation and food supply. An important part of airport operations involves taking measures to reduce the risk for air passengers and reduce the likelihood of collisions between wildlife and aircraft. This is done by applying a variety of deterrence methods, e.g. habitat management.

The employees of Isavia who are involved in wildlife management register the number and species of wildlife that can be seen at the airport. Considerable efforts are spent on mapping wildlife behaviour, particularly that of birds at and near the airports, and staff involved in this work have extensive experience in wildlife management. Náttúrustofa Suðvesturlands (The Southwest Iceland Nature Research Centre) and Þekkingarsetur Suðurnesja (Sudurnes Science and Learning Center) prepared a report on birdlife at Keflavík Airport. Educational lectures were subsequently held for the employees of Airport Services. Isavia also registers all possible collisions between birds and wild animals with aircraft at all its airports.

Last year, 11 confirmed instances of aircraft bird strike were registered at Keflavík Airport. At domestic airports, 12 aircraft bird strikes were registered.

Total annual number of bird strikes GRI G4-A09

Total number of aircraft movements193.070173.176
Total number of bird strikes3523
Total annual number of bird strikes per 10.000 aircraft movements

In 2018, Reykjavík Airport entered into an agreement with the company Flygildi for using drones as bird deterrents within the airport area. This co-operation continued last year.

The summary below contains a list of wild animals and birds that have been seen in the airport area, classified according to the IUCN List of Threatened Species. Included is the legal status of the species in Iceland, as local populations may differ from global population statistics. Species not considered threatened by IUCN, but which enjoy protection in Icelandic law are also included.

IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in
areas affected by operations GRI 304-4

SpeciesScientific nameStatus on IUCN red listLegal status in Iceland
GyrfalconFalco rusticolusVulnerable (VU)Protected
Common ravenCorvus coraxVulnerable (VU)Unproteced
Great black-backed gullLarus marinusVulnerable (VU)Unproteced
Black-legged kittiwakeRissa tridactylaVulnerable (VU)Protected except from 1/9 – 15/3
Common gullLarus canusNear threatened (NT)Protected
Red knotCalidris cantusNear threatened (NT)Protected
Eurasian oystercatcherHaematopus ostralegusNear threatened (NT)Protected
Common eiderSomateria mollissimaNear threatened (NT)Protected
Black-tailed godwitLimosa limosaNear threatened (NT)Protected
Whooper swanCygnus cygnusTegund ekki í hættu (LC)Protected
PtarmiganLagopus mutaTegund ekki í hættu (LC)Protected, except on certain days between 1/11 - 30/11 
Northern fulmarFulmarus glacialisLeast concern (LC)Protected except from 1/9 – 15/3
Great skuaCatharacta skuaLeast concern (LC)Protected and considered critically endangered (CR)
MallardAnas platyrhynchosLeast concern (LC)Protected except from 1/9 – 15/3
Artic foxVulpes lagopusLeast concern (LC)Protected
Red-throated loonGavia StellataLeast concern (LC)Protected
MinkMustela visionLeast concern (LC)Unproteced
Greylag gooseAnser anserLeast concern (LC)Protected except from  20/8 - 15/3
Pink-footed gooseAnser brachyrhynchusLeast concern (LC)Protected except from  20/8 - 15/3
European golden ploverPluvialis apricariaLeast concern (LC)Protected
Black-headed gullLarus ridibundusLeast concern (LC)Protected except from 1/9 – 15/3
Arctic ternSterna paradisaeaLeast concern (LC)Protected
Brent gooseBranta berniclaLeast concern (LC)Protected
Lesser black-backed gullLarus fuscusLeast concern (LC)Unproteced
MerlinFalco columbariusLeast concern (LC)Protected
Eurasian whimbrelNumenius phaeopusLeast concern (LC)Protected