How Denmark punches above its weight

Economic Value to the economy

In today’s global economy it helps to be big.

Big countries with large populations tend to play more influential roles in regional political affairs than their smaller neighbours. If their governments lift travel restrictions big countries tend to attract more interest from airlines wanting to start new services – which means a cheaper and wider choice of connections and all-round better access to global markets.

So what are smaller countries to do? If they want to play a bigger role in the global market they have to think seriously about their aviation growth strategies. The world now has plenty of examples of relatively small states – Singapore and the United Arab Emirates spring immediately to mind – who have transformed their economies by investing in aviation.

Add Denmark to the list of aviation players that could potentially punch above its weight. It has a population of only 5.64 million but aviation supports 61,000 jobs - 31,800 directly within the industry, 9,900 in indirect employment, 6,800 induced through aviation’s economic activity and 12,500 in aviation-generated tourism. Aviation adds DKK 30 billion a year to the country’s gross domestic product.

Much of this is due to the importance of Copenhagen Kastrup as a hub for Nordic air travel; take away hub traffic at the airport and, according to Copenhagen Economics, traffic there will fall by 25% and 5,500 direct jobs would immediately be lost.

In 2013 the airport employed 23,000 people and handled just over 24 million passengers; for every million passengers passing through, 1,000 direct jobs are created at the airport and 450 created indirectly.

But as this is Scandinavia thinking seriously about aviation means more than building and expanding. Denmark’s aviation sector has become a pioneer in green aviation initiatives to offset its growth targets. The airport has begun major investments in solar power – which will soon generate 105,000 kWh of power per year – and become a partner in aviation biofuel research. In 2013 total carbon dioxide emissions fell 624 tonnes over 2012 despite passenger numbers increasing 3.1% over the same period.

And it’s not just global connectivity which has benefitted from providing more capacity at Kastrup. “Flight routes from Danish provincial airports can help to ensure a high level of regional accessibility. It is important for regional development, especially for remote areas where travel time to Copenhagen is considerably shorter by plane than by train, car and ferry. Most of the Danish provincial airports are located in remote areas where they can contribute to very short travel times to Copenhagen. In this matter, domestic aviation plays a special role,” says the CPH and Society 2013 report.

  • We are in Copenhagen for the Green Aviation Days which are part of the city's year as Green Capital of Europe.