Located about 5 km of Longyearbyen, Longyearbyen
Svalbard Airport (IATA : LYR, ICAO : ENSB) or Svalbard Lufthavn Longyear
is the largest airport in Svalbard and is known to be the world’s
most northern full service airport. It has a runway length of 2300
meters and a width of 45 meters. The runway surface is made of grooved
The main problem constructing the airport was with the permafrost.
The runway is insulated against the ground, so that it does not melt
To provide an approach and take off free of obstacle, preference for
landing is given to runway 10 and for departure to runway 28. Instrument
Landing System exist for both runways and are used daily.
Svalbard lufthavn Longyear has daily scheduled jet service to Tromso
and Oslo by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and Braathens.
The flight from Oslo is 3 hours long and the flight from Tromsø
is 1 hour and 30 minutes long. Theses flights to the Norwegian mainland
is the string that ties the community of Longyearbyen to the rest
of the world.
Chartered planes occasionally connect elsewhere in the islands as
well, including bases up north like Barneo for starting treks to the
North Pole. The airport has handled aircrafts like Mc Donnel-Douglas
DC10, Lockheed L1011 and Airbus A300.
This airport is also unique as it supports the coastal radio and weather
information services for the Svalbard archipelago.
Vnukovo Airlines Flight 2801 was a chartered flight from the
Russian company Vnukovo Airlines which on August 29, 1996 crashed
14 km away from Longyearbyen airport, into the Operafjellet
mountain at an altitude of 907 m, killing all 141 people on
The flight was en route to Longyearbyen with Russian and Ukrainian
coal mine workers and their families aboard.
The disaster had a profound impact of the small Russian mining
communities Barentsburg and Pyramiden in Svalbard and may have
hastened the abandonment of the Pyramiden settlement.