Ireland’s low-fare carrier Ryanair applied for and has received four slots to land and take off from Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen (OSL). It’s the first time Ryanair has won the right to fly in and out of one of Norway’s major state-run airports, which Ryanair officials earlier have blasted as charging landing fees that are far too high.
Ryanair’s outspoken boss Michael O’Leary, known for bashing authorities and competitors at any given opportunity, called the landing fees charged by Norway’s state-owned airports agency Avinor “absurdly” high at a press conference in Oslo just two years ago. Aftenposten.no reported on Wednesday that now Ryanair may have changed its mind. It’s scaling back at the locally owned Rygge airport outside Moss and has at least expressed interest in flying in and out of OSL, Norway’s gateway airport, after all.
Aftenposten reported that Ryanair has until January 31 to confirm whether it wants to use four slots granted at OSL for three daily departures to the Stansted airport north of London and one round-trip between Lithuania’s capital of Vilnius and Oslo. If Ryanair accepts the slots offered, it can begin flying in and out of OSL when the airport’s summer program begins at the end of March.
Ryanair itself wouldn’t comment on its plans for OSL Gardermoen, with a spokesman telling Aftenposten that the airline wouldn’t “engage in rumours or speculation.”
The airline O’Leary bills as having “ultra low fares” has been venturing into some of Europe’s main airports recently, where prospects for more growth are better than at secondary airports. Its Norwegian competitors had little comment on Ryanair’s attempt to possibly join them at Gardermoen, which is undergoing major expansion at present: “We’ve said for years that it’s naive to think that Ryanair or any of the other low-fare carriers would not zero in on OSL,” Lasse Sandaker of rival Norwegian Air told Aftenposten. “So this won’t be any big surprise.”
Until now, Ryanair has only used Oslo’s outlying and much cheaper airports at Moss (Rygge) and Sandefjord (Torp) that are not owned or operated by Avinor. It also, until recently, used Haugesund’s airport on Karmøy, Western Norway, which is run by Avinor. Ryanair has threatened to cut its routes from Rygge by half, though, to protest a new seat tax of NOK 80 set to take effect April 1. That would leave Rygge with such little volume that its officials have in turn threatened it would have to close.