Kangerlussuaq Airport is operated by Greenland Airports, Mittarfeqarfiit, which is wholly-owned by the Government of Greenland. Kangerlussuaq Airport nowadays operates as a civilian airport that has been extended, in just a couple of years, by Mittarfeqarfiit with a well-functioning hotel and conference centre that adjoin the airport terminal – i.e. Hotel Kangerlussuaq. The airport in Kangerlussuaq services 250,000 passengers a year, and the hotel offers many of these a place where they can spend the night.
The settlement of Kangerlussuaq is situated at the head of the Kangerlussuaq fjord (also known as Søndre Strømfjord), approx. 200 km from the coast and just a couple of minutes away from the ice cap. Kangerlussuaq is where Greenland’s main air transport hub and largest commercial airport are located. Kangerlussuaq has a permanent population of some 550 people, all of whom have some sort of connection with Mittarfeqarfiit (Greenland Airports), Hotel Kangerlussuaq and Air Greenland as well as one of the numerous local travel and sightseeing agencies.
Kangerlussuaq Airport was founded by the US Air Force in 1941, when Denmark was occupied by the Nazis and was therefore incapable of attending to Greenland’s security and supply. It was in 1960 that the then air base was extended with a civilian facility – an adjoining transit hotel, which has now transformed into today’s Hotel Kangerlussuaq. After the US Air Force left Kangerlussuaq in 1992, the entire airport was transferred to the Government of Greenland and was thus given its official Greenlandic name, Kangerlussuaq. Kangerlussuaq held the status of a defence area until January 2002, but has since been transferred as a settlement to the Sisimiut Municipality.
The settlement of Kangerlussuaq has many names. Danes call it Søndre Strømfjord. Greenlanders say Kangerlussuaq, while Americans alternate between Sondrestrom and Sondy. The official name of Kangerlussuaq Airport until October 1992 was Sondrestrom Air Base or Bluie West 8.