Eurovision glory raises Norwegian prospects; UK now #1 international destination

Image: Eurovision contest winners
Norway’s Alexander Rybak won last Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The victory will hopefully generate increased interest in Norway as a tourist destination, if not this year then hopefully in 2010.

Thanks to Alexander Rybak’s victory in last Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, the Norwegian broadcasting (and tourism) authorities can now ponder the implications of having to host next year’s increasingly spectacular event. The fairytale victory, the country’s first since 1995, will hopefully generate increased interest in Norway as a tourist destination, if not this year then hopefully in 2010.

Although passengers passing through Norwegian airports have increased by almost 40% in the last five years, the current global economic woes have not passed the country by.

Chart: Traffic
Source: Avinor

During the first four months of 2009 passenger numbers at the country’s 50 commercial airports were down just over 8%. Traffic at the country’s main airport at Oslo Gardermoen is down 12% while the regional airports have fared better experiencing traffic falls of less than 5%.

Airports handle nine times the population

Image: Aerial view
Avinor recently selected the winning proposal for a new terminal at Oslo Airport. According to the evaluation group, “the proposed terminal constitutes an excellent architectural solution offering very good functionality, large economic potential and satisfies all the new environmental and energy requirements.”

Norway’s airports handled over 42 million passengers last year despite a local population of less than five million people. Thanks to the country’s shape and spread of population along the coast, air travel plays a vital role in national travel. Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen (which replaced downtown Fornebu in 1998) dominates the local air traffic scene with 45% of all passenger movements in the country using the airport.

With 19.34 million passengers in 2008 Oslo is over four times busier than Norway’s second biggest airport at Bergen (4.66 million). Other airports handling more than one million passengers annually are Stavanger (3.54 million), Trondheim (3.47m), Tromso (1.58m), Sandefjord Torp (1.57m) and Bodo (1.37m).

Chart: Top 12
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 July 2009

As SAS continues to reduce capacity from Norwegian airports (a 13% reduction in ASKs on domestic routes in the first four months of 2009), its home-grown rival, Norwegian, continues to increase its market share of the domestic market. Analysis of scheduled capacity share at Norway’s top 12 airports for this July shows how Norwegian is now a major rival to SAS. At Torp (which lies west of Oslo) neither Norwegian nor SAS are directly present, with Ryanair operating the majority of scheduled services. However, it should be noted that Widerøe is actually part of the SAS group so only at Oslo Rygge does SAS not have any kind of presence.

Even at Oslo’s main airport, SAS/Widerøe and Norwegian manage to share almost 80% of scheduled seat capacity. Foreign carriers have only 20% of the market though many European flag-carriers are present (though not Aer Lingus, Alitalia, Iberia or LOT), along with Continental (to Newark), Thai Airways (to Bangkok) and most recently US Airways (to Philadelphia).

Foreign LCCs are currently not represented unless you count either airberlin or Cimber Sterling in that category.

Image: airberlin route launch
airberlin launched Berlin Tegel-Oslo services on 24 April. It operates six weekly flights.

UK overtakes Denmark to be leading country market

Last summer the leading international country market was Denmark followed by the UK. However, the demise of Copenhagen-based Sterling has resulted in a reduction of capacity and SAS along with its partner Widerøe has reduced its own capacity on a number of Danish routes as well.

Chart: Top 12
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 July 2009 and w/c 7 July 2008

Of the top eight country markets only Germany and the Netherlands have seen a small increase in weekly capacity while Poland and Spain join Denmark in experiencing a drop of over 20%.


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