Greenland – Problems with new airport constructions | Polarjournal
Modernity in combination with the Greenlandic tradition. This is what the new airport of Ilulissat should look like. (Photo: Kalaallit Airports)

The airport projects in Nuuk, Ilulissat and Qaqortoq continue to attract great public, political and media attention. Therefore, it is not surprising that last week, the Greenlandic media reported that Kalaallit Airports Domestic A/S had announced that it was cancelling the tender for the runway and the airport building in Qaqortoq.

An artists’ conception of the planned international airport in Iulissat. Together with the airports in Nuuk and Qaqortoq, the project would be the largest infrastructure investment in the history of Greenland. (Image: Kalaallit Airports)

On April 27, 2020, Kalaallit Airports Domestic A/S launched a tender for the construction of the new airport in Qaqortoq. The company received five offers, all well above the company’s budget.

During the negotiations with and in cooperation with two of the contractors, Kalaallit Airports Domestic A/S has worked to achieve savings on the project that could bring the total cost into the company’s financial framework. At the same time, the company discussed the possibility of additional self-government funding to cover the increased project costs.

However, the company had to admit that it is not possible to achieve the necessary savings for the project or a reduction in the price offer. Similarly, it is not possible to obtain a commitment for additional funding before the current offers are processed. It is pointed out also that the start of the construction work in autumn 2020, as accepted in the call for tenders, can no longer be met.

Nuuk Airport will also be adapted to the latest needs. (Photo: Kalaallit Airports)

Hidden political game

“It is very understandable that the mayor, the deputy mayor and the local chairman are very frustrated by the cancellation of the offer and the resulting delay and that they are responding to the situation, says Kalaallit Airport Domestic CEO Johannus Egholm Hansen.

The newspaper articles more or less directly indicate that the government played a deceiving game and always knew that the airport project in Qaqortoq would lead nowhere in its current form.

“I am not a politician and I have no basis for knowing what political considerations are taking place internally in government. As the CEO of Kalaallit Airports Domestic A/S, I can only say that neither parliament nor the government has ever tried to influence the management of the general contractor to think about cost savings at the airport project in Qaqortoq,” he added.

From the very beginning, the board of directors of Kalaallit Airports Group has been given the task of designing, offering, building and operating new airports in Nuuk, Ilulissat and Qaqortoq. As a result, the company has given Qaqortoq airport the same priority as the other two airports in the preparation of the project. All airport projects are therefore designed by the same consultants and according to exactly the same design guidelines as advertised. The only difference was that the construction of the airport in Qaqortoq could not take place at the same time as the airports in Nuuk and Ilulissat for planning reasons.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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