After breaking ground in 2011, construction of Oslo Gardermoen Airport’s (IATA:OSL) new departures and arrivals hall, railway station and pier reached the halfway mark in late February. When the expansion project is completed in April 2017, the Norwegian gateway’s theoretical passenger capacity will rise from 23 to 28 million passengers per annum.
“The opening date is now set for April 27, 2017,” says airport MD Nic Nilsen.
Simultaneous operation and expansion
Despite the ongoing construction work, which forms of Norway’s largest land-based development projects, OSL has repeatedly been named Europe’s most punctual airport.
“Our challenge is to build and operate simultaneously in the same place, and do it successfully. We are very pleased that we are now halfway and have managed to maintain good punctuality, even in winter,” says Mr Nilsen.
In January, 750 people were working at the construction site, and the project is far below the industry average in terms of lost time injuries.
Mr Nilsen commented: “Safety is our highest priority. After three years of construction work, we have not had any serious incidents and I’m happy to say the number of lost time injuries is minimal.”
Travel will proceed as normal
When the expansion is completed it will give passengers shorter walking distances from the new pier, which will provide easy access to public transport and offer many shopping and dining options.
“We have chosen a passenger-friendly solution: We are expanding the existing terminal to boost capacity and we have focused on keeping the concept of a compact airport with short distances,” says Mr Nilsen, adding that this will also apply to passengers during the construction period.
“It requires a lot of planning and coordination, and we take pride in doing everything we can to ensure that the expansion project will not affect passengers, and that travel will proceed as normal.
The airport says a number of compensating measures are necessary to prevent the expansion project from disrupting travel. Several gates have been closed to connect the new pier to the existing terminal. One of the consequences of this is that there will be more transport by shuttle bus during the expansion period. In August 2012, a temporary domestic pier was also opened at the request of passengers and airlines, to avoid using shuttle buses to and from domestic aircraft.
The airport’s management team says: “open and precise communication” about the expansion project has been crucial, and believes it will continue to be of great importance in the years leading up to the opening. Mr Nilsen commented: “We aim to be honest and open with passengers and those who work at the airport. Around 15,000 people employed by 150 companies work at OSL. We are doing everything we can to promise a certain amount of predictability for all.”
Like most airports, Oslo’s goal is aiming to be as environmentally friendly as possible and Mr Nilsen says a number of steps have been taken to reduce the airport’s carbon footprint. “Among other things, the roof of the new pier is wood, not steel. Oslo Airport is one of the first in the world to use snow for cooling and waste for heating.”
“One confirmation that we are on the right track is that the new departures and arrivals hall and the new pier will be certified as ‘Excellent’ in the BREEAM Bespoke rating system. BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method for buildings, and the choice of a wooden roof on the new pier together with sound energy solutions utilising sewage and snow are key elements here.”
In addition, the railway station is being expanded to facilitate an ambitious public transport target of 70%. As of 2013, 65% used public transport for travel to and from the airport.
Oslo Lufthavn AS (OSL) owns and operates Norway’s main airport, Oslo Airport at Gardermoen. OSL is an important transport hub in Norway with 23 million passengers and more than 230,000 aircraft movements every year. Oslo Lufthavn AS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avinor.