1946: The Gifting of a British Airport to Iceland

July 6, 1946

An airport of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) was formally handed over free of charge to the government of Iceland. This military airport, located on the outskirts of Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík, was transferred to that Nordic island country about 14 months after World War II in the European Theatre officially came to an end with the surrender of Germany to the Allies. “ENGLISH GIFT TO ICELAND,” announced the headline for an article in the Western Morning News (based in Plymouth, England) reporting on the handover of what had been RAF Station Reykjavík to Icelandic authorities.

This facility was built by the British Army and, starting in March 1941 and continuing through the end of the war, was used by the RAF as a pivotal transportation link for the Allies in the North Atlantic. Gerald Shepherd, the British ambassador to Iceland, took part in the changing-of-the-guard ceremony for the airport on July 6, 1946. As a part of that ceremony, he presented Iceland’s prime minister Ólafur Thors with a symbolic silver key for the airport.

This one-time RAF station is now known as Reykjavík Airport, and it is one of the five largest airports in Iceland. Reykjavík Airport is owned and operated by Isavia, Iceland’s national airport and air navigation service provider.

Photo Credit: Konstatin von Wedelstaedt (licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2, at  


For more information on Iceland’s transportation network, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Iceland

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