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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Air traffic disrupted again

Much of the airspace over Northern Norway was closed down Friday afternoon, reportedly because of a torn fiber cable in Bodø. The air traffic disruption follows another one just the day before, when air space was closed over Southern Norway, and investigations are underway.

There weren’t any take-offs or landings at most airports in Northern Norway on Friday afternoon, nor in Southern Norway on Thursday. PHOTO: Avinor

The so-called fiberbrudd affected air travel from Bodø and northward, including the airport at Tromsø. Avinor, the state-owned company responsible for 43 state-owned airports in Norway, reported that “all available resources” were working to address the problem “and a central crisis team” was set up.

“We have other systems that operate independently of the error and can assure safe operation of traffic already in the air,” reported Avinor in a press release. “Airline safety is never in danger.” Airline passengers, however, faced another round of delayed or cancelled flights, and were referred to their airlines’ customer service for assistance.

Flights eventually resumed Friday evening. A similar situation had also grounded all aircraft in Southern Norway on Thursday morning, after the Oslo Control Center reported “technical problems” that ended up closing all airspace over Southern Norway. A total of 16 departures and 42 arrivals were cancelled at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen (OSL). Norwegian Air alone had to ground 40 flights in Southern Norway with no possibility of offering alternative flights.

Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, OSL, is Norway’s largest and busiest. It had to ground all flights on Thursday morning after airspace closed because of “technical problems.” PHOTO: Avinor

“We were rebooking as best we could,” a spokeswoman for Norwegian Air told newspaper Aftenposten Thursday afternoon, when airspace had reopened. The shutdown lasted until 9:40am, when air space gradually began to reopen, but there were also communications problems that left aircraft parked where they were.

The Oslo Control Central at Røyken covers aviation in Southern Norway along with the Stavanger Control Central at Sola on the West Coast, but it also had the same problems. Only air ambulances were allowed to operate.

Avinor apologized for the disruption and vowed that the problems would be “thoroughly investigated.” Jan Gunnar Pedersen, a director at Avinor, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the control centers have back-up systems “but they’re designed to help air traffic controllers shut down traffic when such incidents occur.”

A total of 12 airports were directly affected, including OSL, Torp in Sandefjord, Rygge near Moss that’s now mostly used by the military, and the airports in Kristiansand, Stavanger, Haugesund, Stord, Bergen, Sogndal, Førde, Florø and Sandane. Delays continued throughout the day and entire route systems were disrupted.

On Friday flights were distrupted to and from Bodø and all airports farther north. Some flights were allowed to land and take off from the airport at Tromsø: “I can’t say much about the reasons, but we have several systems and a backup system,” Cathrine Framholt of Avinor told NRK shortly before 5pm. Reports later came that the “error” had been corrected.

The airport chief in Tromsø, Ivar Helsing Schrøen, told NRK there “was nothing to indicate” that the fiber break or other errors were the same as those that distrupted traffic in Southern Norway. Anders Krokan of telecoms firm Telenor, in charge of communications and fiber systems, said the company had workers on the job.

Avinor reported Fridag evening that airports were gradually reopening for traffic. They included Kirkenes, Alta, Banak and Honningsvåg.

Krokan said there were no suspicions of sabotage targeting the fiber cables, adding “this is a case of technical error.” Officials at Norwegian aviation agency Luftfartstilsynet, meanwhile, were demanding “a full account” of the trouble from Avinor.

“It’s too early to speculate about anything from our side,” Håvard Vikheim, communications director for the aviation agency, told NRK, “both when it comes to reasons for this and what needs to be followed up.” He suggested the reason for the disruption “can be complex, and it’s just too early to speculate.”

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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