Airline plans to ground flights

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Profits and stable operations never took off for the small airline FlyViking that hoped to mostly serve Northern Norway. Now its executives plan to ground nearly all its flights shortly after New Year, after also suffering major technical problems.

FlyViking barely got off the ground before its leaders felt compelled to halt opertions, after just nine months of operating a few routes in Northern Norway. PHOTO: Tore Hund

The airline, launched just last spring, announced on Friday that its last scheduled service would be suspended from January 12. It will try to maintain a route between Ørland and Oslo with a leased aircraft and personnel from other airlines but all other service will cease.

“The main reason is that it’s not economically responsible to keep operating with the material we have today,” stated FlyViking chairman Ola Olsen in a press release issued Friday. He added that a “managed shutdown” over a “reasonable” period of time would allow the airline to suspend operations without damaging customers, suppliers, employees or personnel hired in.

FlyViking’s general manager Heine Richardsen apologized for inconvenience to passengers who had bought tickets on the airline for flights after January 12. He asked all of them to contact the company to arrange for refunds in accordance with their terms of sale and passenger rights.

Richardsen added that the airline had suffered “greater technical challenges” with its three first Dash 8-100 aircraft than expected. The technical problems led to “many cancellations and loss of customers.” A fourth aircraft was due to be put into service in November but it lacked “a vital function,” Richardsen claimed, making it “impossible to use on our routes.” FlyViking thus couldn’t expand its route system as planned.

He said the airline also suffered more challenges with its ticketing and reservations system, nor could it offer selv-service check-in. It’s all a major setback for the airline’s founder, Ola Giæver, a former pilot for rival airline Widerøe, and Olsen. Both have been the airline’s two largest shareholders.

Giæver had only a short comment when contacted by state broadcaster NRK, which had aired a documentary about the airline’s launch: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” wrote Giæver, who’s from scenic Lyngen in Northern Norway, in a text message to NRK. “It will be soon be a new year with new opportunities. Happy New Year everyone!” Berglund