Norway’s gateway airport in Oslo, OSL Gardermoen, has lost so much traffic and business during the Corona crisis that it’s closing off large areas of terminals that only recently opened after a NOK 2 billion expansion. The goal is to cut costs until traffic picks up again, which may not happen until 2022 or beyond.
OSL expanded after years of strong growth in airline traffic. The airport itself opened in 1998 after it outgrew its former location at Fornebu west of Oslo. Expansion was deemed necessary just over a decade later, but now the airport is being called “a ghost town,” with many of its restaurants, bars, shops and other services already closed.
“We live off customers, passengers and airlines, and when they’re not here, the airport is a very sad place to be,” OSL director Stine Ranstad Westby told state broadcaster NRK on Thursday. OSL expects to log less than 10 million passengers this year, compared to 29 million last year.
Airport management has now decided to close the new Pir Nord, the northern terminal that’s handled both domestic and international traffic. The entire eastern portion of the departures hall will shut down as well, resulting in mass layoffs of airport employees.
Prospects are poor for reopening any time soon, with traffic not expected to increase until well after a Corona virus vaccine is in place. “Then we hope people will be keen to travel again when they can, and we hope that builds quickly,” Westby said.