UK carrier bmi regional is to launch the first scheduled services connecting Stavanger with Harstad and Tromsø in northern Norway in January 2014. These services will be the first direct air link between the two fastest growing regions in Norway, important hubs for the Norwegian oil and gas industry.
The announcement has been widely welcomed by Norwegian city municipalities and the business community, as it represents the culmination of extensive work by industry and the public sector to achieve enhanced air connectivity between these key regional locations. The news comes just days after bmi regional launched a direct, scheduled service between Kristiansund in Norway and Aberdeen in the UK. Both cities are key locations for oil and gas activity in the North Sea.
At the recent ONS conference in Stavanger, the municipalities of Hammerfest, Tromsø, Harstad, Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, Stavanger Airport Sola and Greater Stavanger presented a detailed route development report on the opportunities between Stavanger and Northern Norway.
“A comprehensive survey of the market carried out by regional municipal partners revealed that Norwegian businesses could save significant time and money with the creation of a direct route between Stavanger - Harstad and Stavanger - Tromsø and that there was significant demand for shorter travel times,” said Ina Eldøy, commercial director, Stavanger Airport.
“The launch of these domestic Norwegian routes is part of bmi regional's strategy of expanding into markets with compelling growth possibilities for our business model. We identified the Nordic region and, in particular, the oil and gas industry as one of the best opportunities. These routes not only meet our strategic goals, but are a perfect example of the flexibility of our airline to move fast when opportunities arrive.”Ian Woodley
Chairman, bmi regional
The two new routes will commence from January 23, 2014 and will be operated using a 49-seat Embraer ERJ 145 regional jet. bmi regional has not yet confirmed the planned operating schedule of the two Norwegian routes but expects to formalise its plans in the coming weeks.
“The launch of these domestic Norwegian routes is part of bmi regional's strategy of expanding into markets with compelling growth possibilities for our business model,” explained Ian Woodley, chairman, bmi regional. “We identified the Nordic region and, in particular, the oil and gas industry as one of the best opportunities.”
According to Woodley, the solid data and documentation of the two region’s requirements delivered at ONS, combined with the support of local government, businesses and the airports convinced him and the rest of the airline’s management team to expand into Norwegian domestic skies. “These routes not only meet our strategic goals, but are a perfect example of the flexibility of our airline to move fast when opportunities arrive,” he added.
The main focus of this expansion is in support of the energy industry and will provide the business demand and strong yields that will support the operation. However, bmi regional also expects to generate some leisure demand on the two routes as both Northern Norwegian destinations have incredible scenery and experiences to offer the leisure tourist.
Tromsø, the capital of the arctic, is surrounded by mountains, fjords and islands. It has 24 hours of daylight in the summer, while the polar nights from November to January offer stunning light conditions during the short dawn and make the city one of the best places on earth to observe the northern lights. Meanwhile, Harstad is on Norway’s biggest island, and offers fantastic hiking options and nature based experiences.
With the oil and gas industry expanding it activities in the north of Norway it will be of vital importance to have better route connections in the future and bmi regional could now be well placed to further support this high yield business sector, especially given its headquarters is in Aberdeen the UK capital of the oil and gas industry.
“When the regions with the strongest growth in Norway require close co-operation and faster connections to enable shorter travel times, it's our job at the airport to facilitate this,” explained Stavanger Airport’s Eldøy. “We are delighted that bmi regional have responded almost immediately to deliver on this opportunity”.
“For Stavanger Sola Airport, it is important to show the regions that there is tremendous potential from our airport. Our calculations show the industry can make huge savings on travel budgets, so we know that bmi regional will be well received and adopted by the industry,” she added.
Stavanger’s Sola Airport is Norway's oldest and is the third largest airport in the country. It handled almost 4.5 million passengers in 2012 and this year its network covers 62 non-stop destinations, including 13 in Norway.