A rush of tourists to Iceland has forced the country's state-owned airport operator to rip up its passenger traffic projections as record numbers of visitors descend on the island of hot springs, volcanoes and waterfalls.
The Keflavik International Airport, the entry point for almost all tourists to the country, is working on a roughly $1 billion-expansion to accommodate the crush of travelers and airlines that need more space at what's becoming one of Europe's hottest airports.
In 2015, the country's airport operator ISAVIA projected that Keflavik would handle 8.8 million travelers a year by 2025. It now expects more than 10 million passengers this year and more than 17 million annual travelers in 2030. The airport is already hitting close to max capacity at certain times of the day.
The land surrounding the airport is relatively undeveloped, so the expansion isn't likely to run into the same issues as airports in densely-populated parts of the United States or other countries.
Iceland received nearly 2.2 million foreign visitors last year, according to the Icelandic Tourism Board, more than triple the number five years earlier.
The expansion includes at least 26 new gates, 16 of them connected to the airport, according to ISAVIA, which operates all of the country's public airports. The Keflavik airport is also planning to increase retail and dining space, a welcome addition for travelers dealing with long lines for food or coffee at concession stands. The project will be funded by airline landing fees, concession and other non-aeronautical revenue and loans, airport officials say.