Gardermoen Airport, Oslo

Gardermoen Airport

Changing the spelling A 12.5-billion-NOK (1.6 billion EUR) extension project will turn Oslo’s I-shaped Gardermoen Airport into a T, ensuring that Norway’s aviation capacity is taken care of for at least for the next two decades

Fresh local seafood, ice-cold sparkling wine and marine blue chairs. This divine combination at the Seafood Bar is the best-kept secret at Gardermoen (OSL), Norway’s largest airport. (The bar actually has two outlets, both of them difficult to find, at opposite ends of Terminal 1, near both the domestic, and international gates). The airport’s other trump cards – light and functional Nordic architecture, a user-friendly infrastructure, as well as fast check–in and security screenings – have been plain to see at Gardermoen since the airport opened its doors 20 years ago.

During this relatively short time, the I-shaped airport has attained the limits of its capacity (17 million passengers per year). A small expansion will permit Gardermoen to continue its operations until 2017, by which time the airport will have acquired a T shape, as well as the ability to serve up to 28 million passengers per year.

As is typical in Scandinavia, the airport has developed detailed, long-term plans until at least the 2030s. Tracts of farmland and forest space have already been booked for a third runway, should there be a need to build one.

All of this growth is due to both international and domestic flights. Unlike the capitals of other European countries, Oslo hosts a high proportion of domestic flights, which account for nearly a half of Gardermoen’s air traffic.

The reason is simple – Norway is shaped like a tadpole, and a very long one at that.

If you were to turn the country’s northernmost point at Nordkapp southward, it would reach Rome, Italy. And due to the lack of railways, people in the middle and northern part of the country rely heavily on air traffic. As passenger numbers increase, OSL, like other growing airports, has had to face a certain degree of opposition from its surrounding inhabitants. Even though it is 10 km from the nearest village and there are very few households in the airport’s immediate vicinity, OSL is determined to maintain a good relationship with its neighbours. Noise pollution is high on the airport’s agenda, which is why its specialists are determining the optimal placement of air corridors to produce the least possible decibels in neighbouring villages.

The airport is acting like a good neighbour in another sense as well. Instead of sponsoring the national football league it is supporting the neighbouring seven communities’ children’s sport teams. This probably brings OSL less fame, but more pleasure out of the feeling that a seed for the future is continually being planted.

OSL Built in 1998 Lies 50 km north of Oslo Connected to the city with shuttle busses and a high-speed train.

Houses the SAS Museum of aviation and the Norwegian Armed Forces Aircraft Collection.