Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (Norwegian: Oslo lufthavn, Gardermoen) is located at Gardermoen in Ullensaker, Norway, 48 km north of Oslo. Built as a military airfield it was enlarged and reopened in 1998 as a commercial airport. It is the main international airport serving Norway, and has two runways. It is a hub of Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle and a focus airport for Sterling and Widerøe. The airport serves as international airport with direct flights to a large number of airports within Europe. There are also some direct flights to other continents including North America and Asia.
More than 19 million passengers travelled through Oslo Airport in 2007, which is an increase of 1.3 million, or 7,8% since 2006. It is also the second largest and fastest growing major airport in the Nordic countries. The airport has two parallel runways of 2950 m and 3600 m, 34 passenger bridges and 5 commuter stands, 64 check-in counters and 71 aircraft stands.
The airport functions as a national hub, with a total of 25 domestic destinations, with 16 being served with jet aircraft. Seven are served on public service obligation contract with the Norwegian government using regional aircraft.
Gardermoen has the largest duty free shop in Europe. This is because Norway is not an EU member, and still may sell goods duty free to all international destinations. Since 2006, also arriving passengers are able to buy duty free products in a special shop located in the baggage claim area. Sandefjord Airport, Torp also serves Oslo, primarily by low-cost carriers and regional airlines, though Torp is located more than twice the distance from the city as Gardermoen. In February 2008, a third airport, Rygge Air Station (non-military name: Moss Airport, Rygge) began serving private airlines as well.
The Norwegian-Danish army started using Gardermoen as a camp as early as 1740, when it was called Fredericksfeldt. The first flight took place in 1912, and by 1920 there were multiple hangars at the airport.
After the war, Gardermoen was used both for charter and intercontinental flights. Military operations were also conducted at the airfield. Charter flights were operated from 1972 at Gardermoen instead of Fornebu due to a lack of slots at Fornebu, while intercontinental flights had to be operated from Gardermoen because the runway at Fornebu was too short. It was only in the 1990s that SAS flights to New York were moved to Fornebu. After the move and until the new terminal and other facilities were opened in 1998, the airport remained almost dormant of commercial flights but military flights used the airport.
After Gressholmen (sea) and Kjeller Airport (land) had been serving Oslo as airports, the new airport at Oslo Airport, Fornebu opened in 1939. But in the 1980s, the airport started to experience severe capacity problems. The airport had only one runway, so there were no available slots at the airport during morning and afternoon rush. This made it impossible for the new deregulated airline market to work, since potential new airlines would not have access to enough slots at Fornebu. As Fornebu was constructed on a peninsula a new runway could not be constructed because of space problems. The old airport also suffered from lack of adequate public transport, with no metro or railway line to the airport. The airport was located quite close to the city centre and beside a residential area, causing great sound pollution problems.
There were many candidate locations for the new main airport for Oslo, notably Hobøl, Hurum, Kroer, Ås and Gardermoen. Though the political process around the airport location started in the 1950s, the first real decision came in 1988 when legislature decided to build an airport at Hurum. But meteorological surveys showed that there would be too much fog at Hurum, and the process was cancelled.
A new operating company, Oslo Lufthavn AS took over the operating of Gardermoen and Fornebu. The decision in parliament meant that the new airport had to be built self-financing, and so a separate limited company had to be created to finance the new airport. The airport's total construction cost of NOK 11,4 billion was all borrowed by the company and profits from airport operations are used to pay the debt. The company also operated Fornebu from 1 January 1997. Oslo Lufthavn AS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avinor AS, the Norwegian civil airport administration.
A new high-speed railway, Gardermobanen, was built at the same time as the airport. Trains depart the airport for Oslo Central Station six times each hour. It was the first high-speed railway built in Norway and is now operated by Flytoget at 210 km/h.
Gardermoen took over as the main Oslo airport on 8 October 1998, when Fornebu Airport was closed except for some sea plane facilities. The transfer happened overnight, and was a major operation. The new airport has a capacity of 17 million passengers per year and 80 air movements per hour. After the opening of Gardermoen, the access of slots at the airport and the arrival of a new low-cost carrier Color Air resulted in a major price war among the airlines, ending in 1999 when Color Air ceased operations. During this period there were almost 50 daily flights between Gardermoen and each of Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim.
In 1999, Northwest Airlines briefly operated a flight between Oslo and Minneapolis for several months with their DC-10-30 aircraft, before the flight was canceled due to poor load factors. In October 2001, the only remaining intercontinental flight, to New York (Newark),with SAS 767-300 aircraft was discontinued. In 2004, Continental Airlines resumed service on this route. There is also a regular connection to Pakistan, and some charter flights to Thailand and some other countries on other continents, and Norwegian Air Shuttle will start flights to Dubai in 2008. In 2002 Norwegian Air Shuttle, started operations using Gardermoen as its hub. The airline serves 50 international and 10 domestic destinations. On 18 January 2006, Liv Signe Navarsete, Minister of Transport and Communications, opened Europe's first infrared deicing hangar at Oslo Airport. The hangar will supplement standard deicing for the rest of the winter season.
Near the E6 motorway junction leading to the airport, there is a distinctive, 14 meter wide sculpture by Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand, the Kepler Star. It consists of two Kepler-Poinsot polyhedrons. Illuminated internally, and mounted on a tall and dark pedestal, After dark, it appears like a giant star in the sky.
Due to the rapid passenger growth, the airport has already exceeded its original capacity limit of 17 million passengers per annum and soon to reach the critical limit of 20 million within few years.
There are plans for increasing the terminal area by adding a new terminal 2 situated 500m north of the present terminal, this is connected by an underground passage and may be completed in 2012 at the earliest. T2 will hold up to eight planes. This idea was predicted even before the completion of the airport, it was therefore included in the development plans of the airport as a whole. Also starting in 2009 with the same expected completion date as T2 is a new pier for the current terminal, that will hold an additional ten aircraft. This expansion will also include an expansion of the check-in areas.
The Government has discussed the opportunity of a third runway in the future, but it is not planned to be completed until 2030. Though estimates by Avinor show that the runway will be necessary by 2030, critics have pointed out that much larger airports, such as London Heathrow Airport, only have two runways. Still, the Norwegian Minister of Transport, Liv Signe Navarsete (Sp), has said that spreading the traffic between the three airports will result in inconvenience for air passengers and a massive need for inter-airport ground transportation, but she still has announced that she is opposed to a third runway.
Norges Statsbaner (NSB) also operates from the airport, both a commuter train service to Eidsvoll and Kongsberg and an intercity service north to Oppland/Hedmark and south to Vestfold. Both offer services to Oslo, and the latter allows direct service to Sandefjord Airport, Torp. Also five express trains to Trondheim stop at the airport. NSB has a 7 % market share.
Pegasus helicopter AS provides helicopter service.