The small airports of the Arctic Circle region cannot accommodate large planes. Therefore, the Norwegian government has decided to build a larger Lofoten airport.
Despite its remoteness: There are plenty of breathtaking photographs of Lofoten on the Internet. About 80 islands make up the archipelago in the north of Norway. The backdrop of mountains, beaches, lakes and forests attracts many nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The arrival and departure, however, is difficult – and expensive – for tourists. Most places on the Lofoten islands are accessible by car via bridges, tunnels and ferries. But the journey from Oslo is 1400 kilometres and takes about 21 hours.
The region can also be reached by plane. The connections are poor, though. A new airport is set to change this. State-owned airport company Avinor announced the construction of a new airport in the small town of Leknes. As NRK radio reports, it will replace the existing airport in Leknes and the similarly sized airport in the town of Svolvær, some 40 kilometres away. That will allow the operation of short- and medium-haul jets such as Airbus A320 or Boeing 737.
Currently only small aircraft in operation
The new airport will make direct connections between Lofoten and Oslo and other major Norwegian cities possible. Due to the short runways at the region’s airports, this has not been possible so far. From Oslo, for example, changing planes at Tromsø or Bodø is necessery. So far, the region has been able to cope well with this circumstance.
The number of passengers is manageable. The previous airport in Leknes, for example, only handled about 130,000 passengers last year. By comparison, Norway’s largest airport in Oslo recorded almost 29 million passengers in 2019.
Norway hopes that the new direct flights will lead to a reduction in fares for flights to the region. This will not only benefit tourism: The Lofoten also wants to diversify its economy. A better connection to the other major cities in Norway is essential for this.
Norway is investing around 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner – more than 251 million euros – in the construction of the new airport. The project also includes the construction of a new road link. Together more than 624 million euros will be invested.
Increase in capacity
Leknes new airport will also be able to handle with more passengers to and from Lofoten. Avinor estimates that the new airport will cope with up to 330,000 passengers per year. Project planners expect up to three daily flights to Oslo, NRK continues. The airport is scheduled to open in 2026. It is not yet clear when construction work will commence.