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Record flight delays raise concerns

The number of flight delays and cancellations at Norwegian airports has soared in the past few years, according to new figures from state auditor general Riksrevisjonen. The vast majority are caused by the airlines themselves, but aviation authorities are also getting a share of the blame.

The new numbers show that a total of 61,970 flights were delayed last year, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Another 17,784 flights were cancelled. The number of cancellations has more than tripled since 2003.

Delays and cancellations are often blamed on bad weather, but the state auditor’s figures show that they only account for 10 percent of the flights that don’t take off or land on time.

Fully 74 percent of the delays and cancellations were traced to either staffing or technical problems at the airline involved. Both aviation authority Avinor and the Transport Ministry claim that the airlines’ attempts to save money have led to a lack of personnel and much tighter route schedules.

State auditors, though, reported that Avinor itself was responsible for a greater share of delays than the weather, with 12.5 percent of them linked to Avinor’s management of flight traffic and use of air space and its communication with the airlines.

“Avinor needs to clean up here,” said Knut Arild Hareide, a Member of Parliament for the Christian Democrats party who leads the parliament’s Transport and Communications Committee. “It’s upsetting that the number of delays that Avinor is responsible for has doubled in the past five years.”

The airlines, meanwhile, promise that the number of delayed flights will decline this year. “We depend on Avinor’s conditions for flight traffic,” said Knut Morten Johansen of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). He claimed SAS had the best on-time record of all the airlines in the world in October, even edging out Singapore Airlines, which is known for its schedule reliability.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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