Last summer, ground handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) had agreed with Avinor AS, Norway’s state-owned operator of Oslo Airport (OSL), that it would create a new cool chain seafood cargo center at OSL that would handle up to 250,000 tonnes of seafood per year. Yesterday, however, WFS and Avinor said the plans for the new facility have been canceled.
“Avinor AS and WFS signed a letter of intent in the autumn of 2018 on the construction and operation of a new seafood center for air cargo at Oslo Airport,” read a Monday statement from Avinor communication manager Kristian Løksa. “WFS and Avinor now agree to terminate this letter of intent. In connection with the project development, WFS initiated changes that could not be implemented under the Avinor procurement regulations.”
While few other details were given about the reason for the sudden cancellation, Avinor had reported that its operating income in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to US$296.4 million, compared with $287.5 million for Q1 in the previous year, as well as an after-tax of almost $5.3 million, year-over-year.
“The first quarter is usually weak in the aviation sector, and this year is no exception,” said Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen. “This stresses the importance of continuing our efforts to cut costs and further streamline the business.”
According to the local press in Oslo, the air cargo community in Norway had been questioning the need for the new facility and that the extra capacity would put pressure on other existing seafood centers. One news site, iLaks, quoted Bjørn Erik Barman-Jenssen, chief executive of Norwegian Air Cargo, as saying that there already was sufficient warehouse space to handle expected seafood growth.
In 2017, OSL was one of the fastest–growing cargo airports in Europe, reporting a 36% rise in tonnage to 185,000 tonnes, compared to the previous year. Nearly half of that total — 90,000 tonnes – was seafood, OSL said.
Avinor added that it “will now consider whether, and how, it is best to arrange for seafood exports over Oslo airport.”
Currently, OSL handles weekly service from 14 cargo airlines, many of which are seeking to provide service for the growing seafood demand. Most recently, CAL Cargo Air Lines said it would double its capacity ex-OSL with the addition of a second scheduled weekly 747-400 freighter service between OSL and Tel Aviv (TLV).