View from inflight to Longyearbyen. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Svalbard Airport Longyear no longer international

From October, international charter traffic can only in exceptional cases land at Svalbard.
October 03, 2017

Last year, Finnair hoped to be the first airliner offer scheduled international flights to Longyearbyen on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. With three flights per week directly from Helsinki, Finnair wanted to bring thousands of passengers to the Arctic during summer period.

The plan, however, landed before it took off.

Mari Rouvi with Finnair Communication said to the Barents Observer that the airliner considered to renegotiate a deal with Norwegian aviation authorities.

Now, Norway has put an end to any hope of scheduled flights between the Finnish capital and Longyearbyen.

Valid from October 1, Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communication has decide to amend the status of Svalbard Airport Longyear from international to national, the Civil Aviation Authority Norway reports.

«Svalbard airport is not in line with international guidelines for international airports,» the ministry argues.

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A few years back, Norwegian authorities started passport control for passengers en route to the Arctic airport. Although belonging to Norway, Svalbard is not a part of the Schengen area, open for non-passport control between signature countries.

«Establishment of border control facilities at Svalbard Airport, dimensioned for international scheduled air services, will require significant resources, both in terms of personnel and infrastructure. Change of status to national airport is to be seen in the context of the significant traffic increase, which has taken place since Svalbard Airport was granted international airport status in 1975,» the Aviation authorities writes.

There are no international scheduled flights to Longyearbyen today.

There are frequent flights from Russia to Svalbard, but they will not be affected by the airport’s change off status from international to national.

 
Tom Cato Karlsen is State Secretary in Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communication. Atle Staalesen​

«Russia has a separate agreement from 1974 regarding the use of Svalbard airport, and the changes of statues will not have consequences for this agreement, State Secretary Tom Cato Karlsen says to the Barents Observer.

In 2015, Norway announced changes in the legislation so that aircrafts flying from abroad to Svalbard would have to deliver passenger lists to Norwegian authorities 48 hours in advanced of arrival. The move came after Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin made a surprise visit Longyearbyen airport and the Russian settlement of Barentsburg. Rogozin is banned from Norway and other EU countries due to sanctions imposed on him for his role in Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. His plane, however, took off towards Russia’s Barneo base on the ice in the High Arctic before Norwegian authorities became aware of his visit.

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