Eight years ago Norwegian snatched away a lucrative army contract from SAS. Now his competitor has won it back.
Bardufoss airport is challenging for pilots. Situated in a valley in the north of Norway, mountains rise up to 1500 metres in the south and northeast of the area. In addition, there can be a lot of traffic. Mostly the airport is used by the Norwegian army with its helicopters, fighter jets and transporters. In addition, there are foreign air forces that do winter training in the rough and inhospitable area.
Norwegian Air Shuttle pilots know the approach well. The low-cost airline has been flying to Bardufoss three times a day from Oslo for eight years now – although the municipality has only 2500 inhabitants and Tromsø 70 kilometres further north is a town with 75,000 inhabitants, which it also flies into several times a day. But Norwegian has a contract with the Norwegian Army to fly soldiers to Bardufoss Air Station, among other places.
SAS had been a supplier in the past
But Norwegian’s Boeing 737s wont be seen in Bardufoss for much longer. The airline has lost the army contract worth one billion Norwegian kroner or around 95 million Euros to rival SAS. On February 1, 2020, the Scandinavian airline will take over and then operate the Oslo – Bardufoss route again. SAS had already been flying on the route between until the end of January 2012.
SAS published a press release on October 20 in which it said that it had beaten Norwegian in all the relevant criteria. The low-cost airline had argued exactly the same when it snatched the order from its big competitor. Norwegian called the Norwegian Army its biggest customer at the time.
The loss is painful for Norwegian. In view of the tight financial situation, stable revenues – around 350,000 tickets per year are involved in the army contract – are more than desirable. But it also offers the airline opportunities. It can now use the aircraft planned for Oslo – Bardufoss on routes that yield a higher return.