Air route linking Europe’s Arctic will soon see larger planes

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - February 3, 2017
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A Nextjet plane at Tromsø airport. The propeller plane currently flies the route linking Tromsø, Luleå and Oulu, but jet aircraft will soon fly that route. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)
A Nextjet plane at Tromsø airport. The propeller plane currently flies the route linking Tromsø, Luleå and Oulu, but jet aircraft will soon fly that route. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

From March 13, passengers flying between northern Finland, Sweden and Norway can board a larger jet aircraft instead of the tiny propeller planes that have operated the route since it started up in January 2015.

Nextjet’s new CRJ 200 have 50 seats and a more comfortable cabin.

The route, linking Tromsø, Luleå and Oulu, was aimed at shortening travel times between the three northern cities and filling planes with passengers who otherwise would have to fly south via the capital airports of Oslo, Stockholm or Helsinki to reach their northern destinations.

“For the first year, 2015, we had around 5,500 passengers on the route. The number was approximately the same in 2016,”Arctic Airlink’s Robert Forsberg told the Independent Barents Observer. Arctic Airlink is the name of the flights and is a cooperation between Nextjet and Arctic Link AB.

That means two out of three seats in average have been empty when the propeller has the aircraft has crossed the skies of northern Scandinavia five times a week over the last two years.

The route is partly financed with public cash from Troms County and cooperation partners in Norrbotten and Oulu.

Forsberg says there are fewer passengers flying between Luleå and Oulu than on the other legs of the route.

With the new aircraft in March, the Tromsø-Oulu-Luleå route will be linked to a new flight to Gothenburg via Sundsvall. Forsberg hopes this connection, with the same jet aircraft, will improve the conditions making the flights commercially profitable.