The Norwegian state agency that runs the country’s airports, Avinor, has been making “bonus” payments to airlines that can report increases in the number of passengers they fly to foreign destinations. Avinor’s goal was to boost traffic through Norwegian airports, but it can’t claim that the bonus payments have been a real incentive.
Airlines Norwegian and SAS have received the biggest payouts, of NOK 21.6 million (USD 3.6 million) and NOK 20 million respectively. While both carriers were happy to accept Avinor’s “bonus” after outbound international passenger counts grew, neither said the bonus payments (of NOK 25 per passenger) had much to do with it.
“The bonus doesn’t determine what routes we’ll launch or operate,” Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen of Norwegian told newspaper Aftenposten. Nor could Avinor point to any proof that the payments have any real effect on airline traffic: “We base it on normal economic theory that incentive programs generally have a positive effect,” said Jon Arne Rasmussen of Avinor.
Others suspect it’s a waste of Avinor’s money. “It’s hardly the bonus payments that prompt the airlines to launch new routes,” Professor Frode Steen told Aftenposten. Traffic was also rising when the bonus program began three years ago.
A state program to actively encourage more airline traffic also raises environmental issues, because more traffic means more fuel consumption and more carbon emissions. Avinor told Aftenposten it now will review the program to determine whether it’s worth continuing.