Busy day and year at OSL Gardermoen

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There were lots of delays and some cancellations at Norway’s gateway airport on Friday, as nearly 100,000 travelers flew to and from OSL Gardermoen. The year itself was wrapping up with yet another decline in actual landings and departures at Norwegian airports, but more passengers.

Norway’s version of Santa Claus (Julenissen) planned to be sitting under the big Christmas tree at OSL Gardermoen on Friday, which was due to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. PHOTO: Avinor

Friday was expected to be “the only really traffic-heavy day” as folks headed home or away for the Christmas holidays next week, according to OSL’s communications chief Joachim Westher Andersen. He and his crew insisted that Oslo’s main airport was ready to handle the crowds, but by mid-afternoon there were lots of “NEW TIME” notices on the airport’s big electronic flight boards. They mostly showed delays of anywhere from 20 minutes to just over an hour, while some flights to destinations including Aberdeen, Kristiansand, Trondheim and Stockholm were cancelled.

Fewer planes, more people
OSL and other airports around Norway otherwise have reported an overall decline in the total number of landings and departures. Newspapaer Dagsavisen reported Friday that state airports agency Avinor has registered around 62,000 fewer this year than in the record year of 2014, when 738,564 aircraft touched down or took off.

That marks a decline of 9 percent, mostly linked to a slowdown in oil industry activity after oil prices fell, according to Nora Hoberg Prestaasen of Avinor. She told Dagsavisen, however, that the total number of passengers has increased by 4.9 million, or around 10 percent. That’s attributed to larger aircraft that have higher load factors. There are more seats available in and out of Norway, and a much higher percentage of them are filled.

The drop in landings and takeoffs is also attributed to domestic airline Widerøe’s flight reductions at 20 short-runway airports, along with fewer Norwegian Air flights. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) was also hit by a strike in late April/early May that forced many flight cancellations.

Critics want to cancel third runway
Environmental organizations hope the reduction in flight activity means that any need for a third runway at OSL Gardermoen will disappear. “This is good news for those who want aviation to relate to climate concerns,” Holger Schlaupitz of Norway’s chapter of Friends of the Earth (Naturvernforbund) told Dagsavisen. “I’m quite certain that investing in a third runway at Gardermoen would be a big mistake.”

It’s also good news that fewer, more modern and more climate-friendly aircraft are carrying more passengers. There certainly were plenty streaming through OSL this week, which had prepared to help boost holiday spirits with Christmas decorations, a roving Norwegian version of Santa Claus (Julenissen) and various concerts in the departure halls. A few NRK radio programs have been broadcasting live from the airport, as has TV2.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund