Air Transport World

Fjording ahead! (Norway's Wideroe airline)(Company Profile)

For years, Wideroe was the only game in town, for service between Oslo and remote northern Norway. Now, liberalization poses questions

OSLO-Wideroe has changed a lot since the old old days being the 1930s, when founder and aviation pioneer Viggo Wideroe provided air taxi and ambulance service using de Havilland Beaver float-planes to fly to some of the most rugged regions of northern Norway.

Flight instruction and aerial photography helped pay fuel and maintenance bills for the carrier that saw traffic ebb and flow like the Norwegian Sea.

Wideroe Flyveselskap MS, as it is known formally, still provides lifeline service up north. But today, its network stretches throughout the long, narrow country, serving 25 STOLports, which the government built in the early 1960s to connect outlying areas with the urban centers, and 12 larger points. Any runway that is 2,500 if. or shorter is considered STOL.

The float-equipped Beavers have been replaced by Dash 8100s, - 103s--which have larger Pratt & Whitney Canada PW121 engines--and 50-seat -300s. The airline still operates four Dash 7s for charter, and one Twin Otter into a very short runway up north. The other Twin Otters were sold back to de Havilland between last February and September, in connection with the acceptance of five additional Dash 8s.

Said a flier who is familiar with the weather conditions along the west coast of Norway: "It is obviously one of the toughest areas in the world to service," The area is open to the weather systems of the North Atlantic, which sweep down from the Arctic. …

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