Fagernes Airport Leirin, Valdres, close, shut, Avinor, buyer, operator, flights, charter, regional, Wideroe, subsidy
Fagernes Airport Leirin (on the right)

Airport in Norway may soon close

Northern Europe’s highest airport, serving the mountainous district of Valdres in central Norway, is likely to shut down.

The airport serving the mountainous district of Valdres in central Norway, Fagernes Airport Leirin, may be forced to close on July 1.

The nationwide airport operator Avinor has not received any offers from local operators to take over the operation of the airport, Norway Today reports.

“If no agreement is reached with local managers regarding the acquisition of Fagernes Airport during the next few weeks, operations will be discontinued already on July 1,” Avinor stressed.

Located about 190 kilometres from Oslo, Fagernes Airport Leirin was opened by Crown Prince Harald in 1987. At 822 metres above sea level, it is northern Europe’s highest-lying airport.

The government said in 2015 that Avinor would operate Fagernes as a charter airport until January 1, 2019 and then for operations to be taken over by local companies.

“Avinor has been in dialogue with local management, but there have been no clarifications, nor an established company we can send bills to for operations,” Avinor’s communications director Gurli Høeg Ulverud clarifies. “Avinor therefore plans to discontinue operations from July 1 this year.”

Regional and charter
Over the years, the airport has provided a subsidised regional service for the local population to and from Oslo as well as occasional inbound charter flights in winter, benefiting nearby ski resorts.

The 2,049-metre runway can accommodate larger aircraft and has over the years seen a number of airlines, almost all of which have since disappeared – Norsk Air, Coast Air, Teddy Air, Guard Air, Air Norway and Arctic Air, as well as Widerøe.

Thomas Cook Airlines operated weekly charter flights to the airport from London Gatwick in the winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12 on behalf of the UK tour operator Neilson. However, demand for air travel to the region has all but dried up.

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