Main airport expands to meet demand

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Norway’s gateway airport, Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen (OSL), opened in 1998 but already needs a major expansion to serve the millions of flying Norwegians and foreign visitors streaming through it. OSL will invest billions in a new terminal, while traffic growth is also spurring the arrival of Norway’s first Starbucks coffee shop.

Norway's main airport, OSL at Gardermoen north of Oslo, will be greatly expanded over the next several years. PHOTO: Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen

Norwegians’ travel tempo has exceeded all estimates, making the airport viewed by many as still new actually somewhat outdated after just 13 years. Growth projections suggest that by 2013, OSL will be handling double the amount of traffic that went through the old airport at Fornebu when it closed and the new one at Gardermoen opened north of the capital.

“With the traffic growth we expect in the coming years, we’re forced to build a new terminal,” Nic Nilsen, managing director of OSL, told newspaper Aftenposten. The new terminal, he said, will allow OSL to accommodate more flights to destinations within Europe and around the world.

The expansion will also boost OSL’s capacity in relation to other airports in Europe, and make it a major rival to Copenhagen’s international airport at Kastrup, long viewed as the major hub airport for Scandinavia. Nilsen says the success of domestic and now international upstart airline Norwegian Air along with Norway’s strong economy is behind the travel boom that’s fueling OSL’s growth.

Preliminary work has already begun on the new terminal, due for completion in 2017. When finished, it will double the current terminal area and offer 11 new gates. It will be built in the same style, emphasizing wood and glass, as the existing terminals. Check-in and security areas will also be greatly expanded.

The taxfree and shopping areas will be expanded, too, and newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) has reported that Norway’s first Starbucks coffee shop will open at Gardermoen next year in the arrivals hall. Starbucks, despite its 16,000 coffee bars in more than 50 countries around the world, hasn’t tackled the Norwegian market before but now will debut with an outlet much larger than most Starbucks elsewhere.

Carol Pucik of Starbucks’ European headquarters in the Netherlands said the chain expects a warm welcome. “We already have 50,000 people on Facebook who say they want Starbucks in Norway,” she told DN. It will be opened on a franchise basis, through service chain SSP, according to DN.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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