The Norwegian government’s long-term plans to significantly boost defense spending include provisions that can offset job losses tied to the pending closure of Rygge Airport south of Moss to civilian aviation.
Rygge has been in the headlines lately, after its board declared it would need to shut down the airport after Ryanair stops flying from it this fall. Ryanair had become the only major airline serving Rygge, and without it, there would be no basis for continued operations.
On Friday, when government officials rolled out their plans to boost defense spending, it became clear that plans include consolidating the entire 339-squadron to Rygge including 12 Bell 412 helicopters that will strengthen Norway’s anti-terror preparedness.
The military will also be charged with maintaining Rygge’s runways, with Rygge becoming one of the most important military bases in the Defense Ministry’s new long-term plans. Rygge Mayor Inger-Lise Skartlien of the Labour Party was delighted, as was Member of Parliament Ulf Leirstein of the Progress Party.
“Many of those who feared they’d lose their jobs can heave a sigh of relief,” Leirstein told newspaper Dagsavisen. “There will still be a need for personnel at the airport.”
Parliament must still approve the defense spending plans, though, and MPs from communities due to lose military services and personnel are bound to fight the transfers. The new defense spending plans will be debated this fall.