Stord Airport, Sørstokken - History - Air Stord Period

Air Stord Period

In February 1988, Coast Aero Center filed for bankruptcy. The company had not paid its airport fees for a while, and owed the airport company between NOK 415,000. However, the company attempted to secure capital for further operations, and not until April did Coast Aero Center inform the Ministry of Transport that they would waiver their concessions. Norving was also in financial difficulties, and was not able to operate a route. Jens Ulltveit-Moe tried to establish Moving by purchasing two Dornier Do 228 aircraft from Norving and taking over the Sørstokken concessions, but in the last minute a new board in Norving would not sell the aircraft. Widerøe offered to operate a route to Oslo, but required that the municipalities guarantee for the profitability of the route, something the municipalities were not willing to do. From 8 December 1988, after receiving concession from the ministry, Fonnafly started a route from Sørstokken to Oslo. A ticket cost NOK 1,100, NOK 700 more expensive than the cheapest tickets from Haugesund.

In the course of 1988, the airport company's debt increased from NOK 4.5 to 8.0 million. In mid-1989, Partnair bought 51 percent of Fonnafly. Three months later, Partnair filed for bankruptcy, but Fonnafly continued operations. Partnair was reestablished in January 1990, and the company took over Fonnafly's route from Sørstokken to Fornebu in February. The company was bought by Jon Furdal in May 1991, and from 27 July the company moved its main base from Haugesund to Sørstokken, including 14 employees and three aircraft. At the same time, the airline changed its name to Air Stord.

Furdal wanted the airport to have a longer runway so he could operate larger aircraft. An extension of 250 meters (820 ft) in the south end was estimated to cost NOK 9 to 10 million. By August 1991, Air Stord increased from two to four daily weekday flights to Fornebu, and from October increased to a fifth three days a week. The airport company was faced with severe liquidity issues, and the creditors threatened to file for bankruptcy from 1 December. To save the airport, the share capital was written down to zero, Stord Municipality and Hordaland County Municipality agreed to paid NOK 0.5 million in new share capital in the company and took over an ownership of 79 and 21 percent, respectively. In 1991, the airport company had a loss of NOK 5.2 million.

In early 1992, Air Stord started a route to Stavanger, which corresponded with the morning departures to London and Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. That year, the airport company went with NOK 22,320 million in profit, before financial costs. In June 1993 the airport bought a new fire engine, which allowed the airport to be upgraded from Category 3 to 4, allowing larger aircraft to land. In August, Air Stord's concessions were upgraded, so they were allowed use aircraft with more than ten seats, but were at the time required to not cancel flights without due reason. In October, the municipality and county granted NOK 300,000 to install new approach lights for Runway 15. In 1993, the airport had a revenue of NOK 3.6 million and a profit of NOK 13,414. This included a NOK 1.77 million grant from the state for the tower service.

In 1995, the airport was discussed in the Parliament of Norway's Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. The committee was split on whether it should nationalize the airport. The Labour Party and the Conservative Party, who had a majority in Parliament, wanting to wait until after the Triangle Link—a fixed link from Stord and Bømlo southwards to Haugaland—was built, so see how it affected patronage at Sørstokken. The Centre Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Christian Democratic Party wanted to nationalize the airport. A unanimous committee chose to give a NOK 1 million grant to build a new terminal and no longer require the airport to follow the Civil Aviation Administration's fees, allowing it to set its own.

In March 1995, Coast Air started flights from Sørstokken to Stavanger using a Twin Otter four times a week. However, the route did not have sufficient patronage and was terminated in June. In November 1995, Widerøe stated that they were willing to fly from Sørstokken to Oslo, in cooperation with Air Stord, using de Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft, with 37 or 50 seats. This would allow increased capacity without extending the runway. During March and April 1996, Sørstokken had its first regular helicoper flights, operated by Norsk Helikopter, as Aker had been contracted to dismount the oil platform at Odin. The company had to fly out personnel in the morning and take them back in the evening. On 20 May, Air Stord started using the 32-seat Dornier Do 328 aircraft on the route to Oslo.

Read more about this topic:  Stord Airport, Sørstokken, History

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