Oslo Airport – Europe’s most efficient airport

Posted: 13 December 2010 | Oslo Airport | No comments yet

Oslo Airport (OSL) is Norway’s main airport located at Gardermoen in the municipality of Ullensaker, approximately 47 kilometres north of Oslo. The airport serviced 18.1 million passengers in 2009 and has been named Europe’s most punctual airport four times by the AEA (Association of European Airlines).

The airport has a strong environmental profile and focuses on public transport to and from the airport. A BAA survey in 2007 showed that Oslo Airport Gardermoen has the highest share of public transport in Europe, with a huge 60.1%.

Oslo Airport (OSL) is Norway’s main airport located at Gardermoen in the municipality of Ullensaker, approximately 47 kilometres north of Oslo. The airport serviced 18.1 million passengers in 2009 and has been named Europe’s most punctual airport four times by the AEA (Association of European Airlines).

The airport has a strong environmental profile and focuses on public transport to and from the airport. A BAA survey in 2007 showed that Oslo Airport Gardermoen has the highest share of public transport in Europe, with a huge 60.1%.

Roughly 13,000 people work at OSL in order to keep it running 24 hours a day. These 13,000 work for more than 100 companies involved in everything from baggage handling to air traffic control. In 2007 and 2010, Oslo Airport was named Europe’s most efficient airport.

New passenger record for October 2010

Information released to the industry press in October 2010, showed that 1,820,662 passengers travelled through OSL in October 2010. This was 140,396 (or 8.4%) more than in October 2009.

International traffic increased by 96,914 passengers (or 11.5%) and domestic traffic increased by 43,482 passengers (or 5.2%). The number of aircraft movements was 19,060. This is an increase of 553 (or 3%) from October 2009.

So far in 2010, the number of passengers has increased with 774,243 (or 5%). The number of aircraft movements is up 1,223 (or +0.7%).

Europe’s most efficient airport

On 7 July 2010, and after 37 European airports had been analysed, Oslo Airport was ranked the most efficient airport in Europe by the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS) for 2010.

On accepting the award, Managing Director, Nic Nilsen said: “It is with great pride that I accept this award on behalf of all the employees at OSL. It is proof that the airport operates efficiently, which benefits everyone and these things do not go unnoticed in the world at large.”

ATRS is an academic forum consisting primarily of professors from a wide range of universities around the world. They have gathered statistics from 129 airports worldwide, compared the figures and ranked the winners within a variety of categories. The Europe Airport Efficiency Excellence Award is based on comparisons of how well each individual airport makes use of its production potential.

Copenhagen Airport (CPH) has held the position of the most efficient airport in Europe for a number of years, with OSL close behind in second place, but this year OSL has moved up to first place.

There are a number of reasons why ATRS has ranked OSL the most efficient airport in Europe. The main underlying criteria for the award are cost efficiency of operations and productivity compared with number of employees. The following factors were also highlighted in connection with the developments at CPH and OSL:

◆ Passengers and cargo per employee

◆ Number of air movements per employee

◆ Concession revenue share

◆ Greater proportion of international traffic

OSL and the environment

OSL plays an important role in society through the contributions it makes to business development on both the regional and the national levels. As a means of collective transport, air travel meets important needs in society for long-distant transport. Like all transport activities, air travel has a negative impact on the environment. OSL wants to do all it can to minimise this impact.

OSL has therefore made sustainable development of the airport one of its main priorities, where growth and efficiency are balanced against social and environmental considerations. This entails, for example, that OSL takes steps to ensure that its activities do not contribute to global warming.

Noise is another negative aspect of airport operations. The main changes in the noise situation around the airport are a result of the growth in air traffic, technological developments and regulation of the traffic in the vicinity. OSL has its own special regulations for approaches and takeoffs, and proposed new regulations are currently being considered by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. In the interests of aviation safety, it is necessary to use de-icing chemicals on aircraft and runways. This entails that winter operations and protection of the groundwater and local waterways pose a constant environmental challenge.

Environmental management

In order to meet its environmental targets and other goals, OSL works according to a management and control system that includes environmental management as an integral part. Environmental management means that environmental considerations must be taken into account in all aspects of OSL’s activities.

OSL aims to improve their track record within the constraints given by means of systematic:

◆ Planning

◆ Operations

◆ Checks

◆ Evaluations.

OSL also expects the other players and companies at the airport to adopt a similar policy. The airport has set concrete requirements for them and to make sure that these requirements are complied with through collaboration, inspections and audits.


Noise is an important environmental topic that affects people living near the airport, and the topic that the airport receives most enquiries about.

The main source of noise is, of course, aircraft during take-off, landing and taxiing. Aircraft noise varies according to type of aircraft, the number of flights, the areas being flown over, time of day, etc. The weather and wind conditions also affect sound propagation. Other sources of noise, such as ground vehicles, generators, testing aircraft engines and long queues of aircraft waiting to take off, can also be bothersome. In winter, snow clearing often disturbs our neighbours.

OSL has a charting system and continuously monitors conditions around the airport. An advanced noise and track monitoring system provides data for the regular monthly reports to the Civil Aviation Authority – Norway.

The aircraft noise zone maps keep the local authorities informed about expected developments in future aircraft noise levels. Large amounts of resources are invested in monitoring the noise situation around the airport, using the noise and track monitoring system (NTMS). Noise zone maps are also drawn up for the areas around the airport.


In the interests of aviation safety, aircraft at Gardermoen must be deiced in the winter. The deicing fluid used consists of a mixture of hot water and propylene glycol, plus a number of additives. This is to ensure that the deicing fluid has all the properties necessary to ensure satisfaction of the flight safety requirements.

Oslo Airport currently uses the most environmentally-friendly deicing fluid on the market. It is not categorised as an environmental toxin. The additives make up less than 1% of the fluid and are not toxic to the environment around the airport in the quantities used. Deicing is done on winter days with snowfall, freezing rain or frost forming on the aircraft.

The ratio of the deicing fluid used at Gardermoen depends on the air temperature. On days where the temperature is around freezing point, the principal deicing agent is hot water, whereas on colder days, more glycol is used.

Deicing is performed on three special deicing platforms, depending on which runway and which direction the aircraft is taking off from. There are collection systems that collect excess water and deicing chemicals by all the deicing platforms and alongside the taxiways and at the start of the runways. All the chemicals that fall off the aircraft within this area are collected and treated in a variety of ways. At Oslo Airport, approximately 80% of the deicing chemicals used are collected. The remaining 20% are spread over the area alongside the runways or carried farther afield by the aircraft.

Deicing runways and taxiways

In the winter, it is necessary to deice the apron, runways and taxiways in order to ensure sufficient friction in winter conditions. Formiates (formic acid salts) are the principal deicing agent. These are organic salts that do not contain any harmful additives. The deicing fluid used at Gardermoen is the most environmentally-friendly product on the market. There is a special collection system in the apron and the taxiways around the Terminal Building that collects all the chemicals used in this area. The collected chemicals are taken to Gardermoen purification plant, where they are removed and treated. All the fluids used on the runways and other taxiways drain off into the ground around the runway system.


Since 2006, OSL has accounted for its greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with international standards. A special plan of action was adopted in summer 2008, according to which several measures and investments were implemented in 2009.

OSL’s greenhouse gas accounting follows The Greenhouse Gas Protocol and ISO 140064 and quantifies emissions from Oslo Lufthavn AS and its subsidiary companies (OSL Eiendom AS and Oslo Lufthavn Tele og Data AS). Activities which represent a direct emission or an indirect effect on the climate are totalled or calculated as CO2 emissions. The method was verified by DNV in 2008.

OSL’s plan of action for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions covers a number of areas. For vehicles, a bioethanol plant will be established, electric vehicles will be acquired, a plan for replacing vehicles more frequently will be instituted and a campaign will be started to stop running engines on idle. A service and maintenance plan will be devised for the fire training area and operators will be trained in the use of fuel. A strategy for controlling energy carriers will be established, as well as a preproject on eco-friendly energy.

OSL is working to improve the availability of public transport for employees and for travellers using the airport. Employees’ use of public transport will be rewarded and dedicated parking spaces for electric cars will be introduced in the employees’ car park. We are also working on a policy for business travel, plans for forestry management linked to energy use and CO2 binding, new requirements for handlers when contracts are renewed and the use of biofuels by new internal buses. OSL is also working to influence other organisations at the airport to collaborate in reducing the airport’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

OSL contributes to the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) by investing in projects which achieve an emissions reduction corresponding to the climate effect that OSL is unable to reduce itself. This makes OSL one of the first airport operators in the world to compensate for its greenhouse gas emissions. For the years 2006 to 2008, OSL chose two projects in India, one in wind power and the other district heating. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these projects also contribute to social and economic development.

The importance of security

It is important that passengers should feel safe when travelling via Oslo Airport Gardermoen. That is why security is the airport’s top priority. All staff are required to keep track on a daily basis of any tougher security requirements or new security rules. Security personnel work to ensure the safety of passenger journey.

Passengers are required to pass through security before commencing their journeys. Some people may experience airport security as harsh, but airport security requirements today have become far more stringent and must be adhered to without exception.

Currently, the airport has approximately 700 security personnel who are responsible for all passenger and baggage security checks, as well as for general airport security. Staff are employed by the security company Group 4 Securicor (G4S), which is Oslo Airport Gardermoen’s security sub-contractor.

Passengers will meet some of the airport security personnel when they pass through security, where security officers will check both them and their hand baggage to ensure that no items are being carried that could pose a threat to air safety. There are also many security personnel that passengers will never meet. These people carry out a range of tasks around the airport in order to ensure safety. Some, for example, are responsible for the camera surveillance of checked baggage, while others are located at cargo reception and check that all cargo entering the terminal complies with security regulations.

The future

Oslo Airport will soon reach full capacity and an extension of the airport is required. In 2008, the Avinor board approved the pier concept and planning for Terminal 2. Final approval to go ahead is expected in the autumn of 2010. In the meantime, the existing terminal has been expanded eastwards with 6,453m2, which has provided improved capacity for baggage belts and check-in areas.

“After the period of volcanic ash in April and May 2010, traffic has increased considerably,” says the CEO of Oslo Airport, Nic Nilsen. “This development underlines the need of increased capacity through the construction of Terminal 2, which we hope will be ready for traffic in 2017,” concludes Mr. Nilsen.

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