Denmark enjoys an expansive air traffic network consisting of 15 public airports and numerous independent airfields. Copenhagen Airport is the largest Danish and Scandinavian airport and is classified as a European hub airport, receiving around 30 million travelers annually. Management of air traffic is the responsibility of Naviair, an independent state-owned enterprise.
Besides the SAS Group – the Scandinavian flag carrier for Denmark, Sweden, and Norway – the Danish aviation industry is comprised of several smaller companies that depend on a few large contracts. They each cater to the dependencies of major individual companies in relation to transportation of personnel and freight, for instance in connection with the offshore oil industry.
In 2017, the Danish aviation industry directly employed 30,000 people and an additional 20,000 people in tangential companies. Moreover, it is estimated that the sector, including its indirect effects, creates value for more than DKK 30 billion, or around USD 4.5 billion.
The import climate of Denmark is open to U.S. products and governed by fair business conduct. In the interest of minimizing costs, major Danish civil aviation buyers usually prefer to deal directly with the manufacturers of aircrafts, aircraft parts, and other relevant equipment. Because purchasing timelines may differ depending on market, U.S. firms may consider building a network of local business contacts to gain insight into timing of major contract bids or equipment purchases in Denmark. This can be achieved by using local consultants or setting up a locally based sales office. During the sales process, it can be advantageous for the exporter to help with certification procedures and preparation of appropriate documentation (i.e., manuals and pilot instructions).
In Denmark, EU directives dictate the regulative framework that market participants must abide by. In many cases, these directives supersede national legislation. This ensures common standards in areas such as market entry, passenger rights and safety procedures. Like most countries, the civil aviation industry in Denmark is subject to very fierce price competition, which drives margins down.
Current Market Trends and Demand
Over recent years, the overall Danish market demand for aircrafts has steadily declined. From 2015 to 2019, the number of registered aircrafts decreased from 1,064 to 1,008. This decrease reflects an overall downward trend in the number of aircrafts of all sizes, including helicopters. The market’s largest categories are airplanes with 1-2 or 3-5 seats. These aircrafts account for 73.4% of the market. Propeller aircrafts with 1 engine also represent a significant proportion of registered aircrafts.
In 2020, Copenhagen Airport was named the 8th best airport in Europe by Skytrax’ World Airport Awards 2019/2020. The Copenhagen Airport alone accounts for approximately 74% of Denmark’s total connectivity and employs more than 22,000 people. It is the largest hub airport in Northern Europe and has seen a steady rise in the number of passengers in recent years. In 2019, the terminals of Copenhagen Airport were teeming with passengers and reached a total of 30,256,703 passengers. The airport handles 66 airlines and has room for over 100 airplanes.
In Denmark, there is a close link between the market demand for aircraft and aircraft parts and the amount of airline passenger traffic. The main airline in the Nordic region is SAS. They constitute the largest single buyer of U.S. aircraft and parts. SAS is currently engaged in replacing parts of their old fleet with new, more efficient aircrafts in order to meet sustainability targets. In addition to SAS, the charter flight airline Sunclass Airlines also boosts Danish demand for American aircrafts and parts.
COVID-19: The Danish market for civil aviation is currently faced with the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, producing a volatile market environment. Due to decreased demand for commercial travel, airlines such as SAS has been cancelling departures and laid off a significant proportion of its workforce. In June 2020, SAS laid off 1,600 of their Danish employees, a number representing more than 50 percent of their flight crew staff. Layoffs were not limited to flight crew personnel, however: positions ranging from pilots to technicians were also eliminated. The extreme fluctuation of trends for air traffic is not expected to normalize to pre-pandemic conditions until at least 2022.
Defense Products & the Arctic
The Danish government has pledged steady increases in the defense budget through at least 2023. Per NATO guidelines, 20 percent of the total increased budget goes towards new equipment. Danish defense budget increases provide an optimistic outlook for American aircraft companies looking to provide Denmark with military technology.
Danish defense needs in the Arctic are increasing along with Greenland’s strategic significance amid mounting regional tensions with Russia and China. Therefore, additional resources are expected to be allocated to build the Danish military capacity to monitor and survey the Greenlandic coasts and the waters that surround the island. This development creates opportunities for U.S. contractors providing systems and solutions within this field.
There are currently no Danish firms that manufacture helicopters. In 2019, there were 115 registered helicopters on the market in Denmark. This is a 11.3% percentage decrease in the market from 2015, where 128 helicopters were registered, signaling a current decrease in demand for rotorcraft in the Danish market. In addition, Denmark has 28 helidecks, that are designed for a variety of purposes. Geographically Denmark possess 7,000 kilometers of coast line, which accounts for longstanding maritime traditions, that are transferred to the rotorcraft industry. Of the 28 helidecks, 19 of them are designed for offshore services within the oil and windmill industry, five are hospital decks and four are comprised of private platforms or attachment to airports.
The Danish buyer profile in the rotorcraft industry is a mix between public and private institutions as well as private enterprises and personal usage.
Within the past few years, the emerging industry for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, has enjoyed remarkable attention in Denmark. UAS Denmark, the Danish drone cluster initiative, was established in 2013 to develop and promote the Danish drone industry. Shortly thereafter, several Danish universities and technology organizations began research and educational activities related to drone technology and industry development. Today, UAS Denmark provides a dedicated test centre of 867 square kilometres at the Hans Christian Andersen Airport in Odense, Denmark, which allows UAV operators to securely test and monitor their vehicles. The industrial network consists of 120+ international members.
Denmark highly prioritizes this industry due to drones and their corresponding technology’s capacity for commercial growth. In 2016, the Danish government launched a strategy for the use of civil and commercial drones in Denmark. The ambitions for this Drone Strategy is to establish a good and secure framework for technological and commercial development in the area. The strategy presents 23 initiatives to enhance the development and use of drone technology in Denmark. The high level of national ambition and access to advanced UAV facilities give U.S. businesses immense opportunity for development.
August 13 - 15, 2021
Roskilde Airshow takes place every other year at Roskilde Airport and presents a wide range of airplanes. At least one international airshow team participates as well as military planes; helicopters from the Danish Navy, the Army, and the Air force; and passenger planes, business aircraft, and helicopters. Also, military war birds from World War II, acrobatic flights, and a great number of experimental airplanes (homebuilt) and veteran airplanes including the Danish KZ airplanes participate. The show includes planes from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England, as well as gliders, ultra lights, model planes, and parachute jumping. All aircraft participating in the airshow will be accessible on ground as well as several different exhibitions related to flying, such as flying clubs, flying unions, flying schools, etc.
Nordic Defense Industry Seminar (NDIS)
fmi.dk/da/industri/industridag/ (Seminar details will be updated as available)
The Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO) annually organises the DALO Industry Day, which is a large “open house” event, where DALO employees as well as selected outside guests have the opportunity to meet with industry exhibitors. The purpose of the Industry Day is to create a framework in which managers and employees from DALO and the other authorities of the Armed Forces can meet with representatives from the Danish defense industry to discuss opportunities, needs, and issues. The event is a natural initiative in connection to the Ministry of Defense’s “Open for Business” strategy, which contributes to the promotion of Danish companies - primarily in relation to defense and aerospace. Last year’s event attracted approximately 130 companies and over 350 participants. DALO is primarily aimed at Danish companies which develop and manufacture defense equipment – primarily members of FAD, CenSec, Naval Team Denmark, and Danske Maritime as well as companies under the Danish Industry.
Danish Aviation Association
DAA seeks to promote the interests of its members as a part of the commercial and technical areas of the aviation industry in Denmark. ES-DAA represents the Danish chapter of the European Council of General Aviation Support - ECOGAS - ECOGAS.
U.S. Embassy Copenhagen, Denmark
Senior Commercial Specialist
Phone: +45 33 41 71 17