A new airline that’s launching routes in Northern Norway, FlyViking, took off for the first time on Monday morning. Its first departure from Tromsø, however, was delayed by stormy weather that continues to hammer the far north.
The airline’s maiden flight from Tromsø to Hammerfest was supposed to depart at 5:50am, with its founder Ola Giæver in the pilot’s seat. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that he along with everyone else simply had to wait until the weather in Hammerfest improved enough for FlyViking’s new leased Dash 8 propeller aircraft to be able to land.
It eventually did, the flight took off at around 7am and landed an hour later. Plans call for regular service, in competition against Widerøe, between Tromsø, Hammerfest and Bodø, with routes to Solvær in Lofoten set to launch in April. Giæver also hopes to expand service to Vadsø, Kirkenes and perhaps even Murmansk in Russia.
Launching a new airline in Norway is risky business, but Giæver and his business partners in the Tromsø-based venture are optimistic. If all goes well, their initial fleet of just two Dash 8 aircraft, the same type of plane Giæver used to fly for Norwegian commuter airline Widerøe until he quit his job of 33 years amidst conflict, will increase by two more by summer and to 19 when the airline expands routes within Northern Norway.
Espen Andersen, a professor at the Norwegian Business School BI, was less optimistic. “With just one exeption (Norwegian Air), it hasn’t gone well for all those who have tried to start up airlines in Norway,” he told NRK. He cited high fixed costs and tough competition against Giæver’s former employer Widerøe with its already-well-developed network and organization. Widerøe officials declined to comment on their new rival.