Stord Airport, Sørstokken - History - Runway and Terminal Expansion

Runway and Terminal Expansion

Since the construction of the airport, there had come new rules which required the runway to have a flat section 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Should the runway be extended, the regulations required the width be extended for the whole length of the runway. The airport established a committee to look into an expansion of the airport. It made to proposals to extend the runway: to 1,260 by 80 meters (4,130 by 260 ft) would cost NOK 9.2 million, while to 1,460 by 150 meters (4,790 by 490 ft) would cost NOK 22.4 million. For the longer plans, the runway would be extended 340 meters (1,120 ft) to the south and 40 meters (130 ft) to the north. The construction was offered for tender, and Veidekke offered to build the extension for NOK 8.5 million. The total cost of the project was NOK 15.2 million. The plans were approved by the municipal council on 22 February 1996, against the votes of the Socialist Left Party and the Christian Democratic Party. The project was financed by the Aker Group moving the municipality it taxed the work related to Stord from Oslo to Stord, on condition that it be used to extend the airport. The Socialist Left Party stated that it was undemocratic that a corporation dictate what its tax money be spent on.

Construction on the runway started on 13 May 1996. The work included a 85-square-meter (910 sq ft) new terminal building with a new border control. This was needed to allow up to 50 people to travel abroad on one flight, mostly foreign workers at Aker Stord. Hardanger Sunnhordlandske Dampskipsselskap started an airport coach service between Leirvik and the airport from 2 September 1996. The upgrades to the runway were taken into use on 7 November. Air Stord was in financial difficulties, and the airport company was forced to write off three-quarters of the company's NOK 750,000 debt, or see the airline file for bankruptcy. From 15 June, Widerøe started a Sunday route from Sandefjord Airport, Torp via Oslo to Sørstokken and then Flesland, before returning to Torp, using a Dash 8-100 aircraft. From January 1998, Coast Air started flights once a week from Skien Airport, Geiteryggen via Stavanger and Stord to Bergen, using a British Aerospace Jetstream.

In 1997, the airport started the process to install a doppler very high frequency omnidirectional range (DVOR) to aid navigation, which would cost NOK 800,000 used, plus NOK 400,000 for installation and construction of a road. The DVOR was operational from October 1998. The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority instructed the airport company to improve the facilities for both employees and passengers, and in February 1997, the airport company decided to build a new passenger terminal and a new operations building for a combined cost of NOK 12 million. The new passenger terminal would be 754 meters (2,473.75 ft) in two stories, with the tower in four. Instead the airport chose a larger proposal, also designed by Svein Halleraker, which cost NOK 25 million.

With the opening of Oslo Airport, Gardermoen on 8 October 1998, Widerøe terminated its route, while Air Stord moved the Oslo routes from the then closed Fornebu to Gardermoen. That year saw 52,130 passengers travel through Sørstokken, an all-time record. On 19 February 1999, Air Stord filed for bankruptcy. The same afternoon, Teddy Air landed at Stord and operated a route using a 36-seat Saab 340. Coast Air did the same with a 19-seat Jetstream. Stord Flytransport also started flying, in cooperation with Air Iceland, using a 46-seat ATR 42. Coast Air had the best regularity, but withdrew from operations in the fall.

In 2000, local businesspeople proposed building a new airport in Sveio to replace both Karmøy and Sørstokken. The airport would be large enough to serve cargo aircraft of any size, which would allow it to be used for export cargo routes. As a response, representatives for Sørstokken stated that it would be possible to rebuild Sørstokken's runway to 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) for NOK 100 million, although this would change the direction of the ruway.

The decreased traffic caused the airport to reduce the plans for the size of the new terminal, cutting it to 350 square meters (3,800 sq ft) and a cost of NOK 10 million. NOK 2 million was financed through an interest-free loan from the county. To save NOK 600,000 in conjuncture tax, it was decided that the terminal would be built by the municipality, as it would then be regarded as a public, rather than private, investment. In late 2000 and early 2001, Widerøe put in a Dash 8-100 with two weekly services to cater week commuters from Eastern Norway. From February 2001, Widerøe terminated the service, but the extra service was partially replaced with a Monday morning service to Oslo by Danish Air Transport, using an ATR 42. The new terminal was opened on 1 August 2001, having cost NOK 7 million. By that year, the patronage had fallen to 20,000.

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