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It’s not really a competition. But if it were, Bergen would give Oslo a run for its money. For one, the city is stunning. Surrounded by seven hills and dotted with colorful houses, Bergen has an old-world charm that Oslo, with all its breathtakingly modern architecture, seems to want to move away from.
And yet, until now, Bergen lacked an appropriate airport, the kind that operates not only as a facilitator for travelers to reach a city but also as an ambassador for the charms of the city. According to complaints from travelers on the airport’s official FB page, the old airport was small and tended to get crowded, and as a result, was voted “Norway’s worst airport” by the media. Add that to the fact that Oslo has taken pains to make its airport a memorable one – first by turning it into a mini Munch museum and ultimately by building a whole sustainable city around it making it easy to understand why most people preferred to land in Gardermoen and take the train to Bergen. However, with the renovated Bergen Airport Flesland, it looks like changes are coming for the better.
According to Avinor, the company that operates all of Norway’s airports, the rationale behind the renovation was to create a more “modern, spacious and logical terminal with a wider range of restaurants and shops”. The construction of the new and improved Bergen lufthavn Flesland took three years to complete and was done towards the end of 2017 – which means this year is the first year Flesland has been open for the whole season.
The new facility has added 63,000 square meters to the terminal, creating a total terminal area of 85,000 square meters (an increase of roughly four times the original space). There are also six new gates, raising the total number to 15 and total passenger capacity to 7.5 million. There are also more restaurant and shop options now, with places to eat and drink, kiosks and a SAS Lounge for frequent flyers of the Star Alliance. Finally, Flesland will be offering biofuel to airlines, becoming the second Norwegian airport to do so – an important step toward’s Norway’s plan to have more green flights.
All in all, the project cost around 3.6 billion NOK but is expected to give a tremendous boost to the city’s tourism, especially now that Norwegian’s international division has launched direct flights to the United States. Travelers are already calling the renovated airport more “attractive” and “easier to handle” than the old one. Already in April, there was an increase of traffic by 7.8 percent, bigger than the increase of traffic Oslo experienced due to Easter season. It may not be a competition, but thanks to its new airport, Bergen seems to be winning.