Widerøe

Infobox Airline
airline = Widerøe



image_size =
IATA = WF
ICAO = WIF
callsign = WIDEROE
founded = 1934
ceased =
hubs = Bodø Airport
Tromsø Airport, Langnes
Sandefjord Airport, Torp
secondary_hubs =
focus_cities = Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, Bergen Airport, Flesland
Trondheim Airport, Værnes
frequent_flyer = EuroBonus
lounge = Scandinavian Lounge
alliance =
subsidiaries =
fleet_size = 29 + 7 on order
destinations = 41
parent = SAS Group
company_slogan =
headquarters = Bodø
key_people = Per Arne Watle (CEO)
Mats Jansson (CEO SAS Group)
website = http://www.wideroe.no

Widerøes Flyveselskap ASA, branded simply as Widerøe, is the largest regional airline in the Nordic countries, having a turnover of NOK 1.8 billion and carrying 1.5 million passengers. Widerøes Flyveselskap ASA operates 29 Dash 8 aircraft to 35 destinations in Norway and 6 destinations abroad . The company has 1300 employees. The public service obligation services (PSO) on the short take-off and landing (STOL) network account for approximately half of Widerøe's operations. In recent years, the largest growth has been seen on the regional network in Southern Norway and to destinations abroad.

History

Aviation Pioneering

The airline was established and started operations on 19 February 1934. It was founded by Viggo Widerøe, at the time 29 years old, and four friends, with the tram company owner Eivind Eckbo owning the majority of the stock. To begin with the airline provided air taxi and ambulance flights, flight training, aerial photography and aerial advertisements. The latter consisted of dropping vast amounts of leaflets over populated areas. It started off with a sea plane base at Ingierstrand in the summer and at Bogstadvatnet in the winter. The airline had to begin with two aircraft, a five seat Waco and a three seat Spartan C-71 Executive. The airline was the first to receive concession to fly scheduled domestic flights in Norway, operating between April and September 1934 on the route Oslo-Kristiansand-Stavanger-Haugesund, flown once a day. The airline acquired a second Waco aircraft and one of the aircraft was used each day on the flight that took a total of at least 12 hours. But then the government subsidies stopped, and the company had to turn to alternate operations.

There were in the 1930s two competing strategies concerning the development of Norwegian airports. Det Norske Luftfartsselskap (DNL) wanted to use land aircraft while Widerøe wanted to use sea aircraft. In the end a compromise was reached, where sea planes were to be used to fly until the land airports were built. Stavanger Airport, Sola was opened in 1937 while Oslo Airport, Fornebu and Kristiansand Airport, Kjevik opened in 1939. Part of the reason for the construction of land airports was the government strategy to crate work during the Depression in the 1930s.

The two airlines DNL and Widerøe were competing to get the concessions to fly on the domestic routes. Most countries in Europe were forcing the domestic airlines to merge into one company to fly scheduled flights, and Norwegian authorities signaled that they would attempt such a strategy too. DNL was bought by Fred. Olsen in 1933, and soon let the shipping company Bergenske Dampskibselskab buy part of the company. Widerøe allied itself with the shipping companies Arendals Dampskibselskab, Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskap, Nordenfjeldske Dampskibselskab and Vesteraalens Dampskibselskab and suggestet that both DNL and Widerøe own part of a new airline. But Fred. Olsen convinced the rest of the shipping companies to buy part of DNL. The result was that DNL got the concessions and Widerøe was forced to do ad hoc flights until the war. Among the most extreme was that the airline was hired to do aerial photography work in Antarctica in 1937, a major contribution towards the Norwegian claims of Dronning Mauds Land in 1939. DNL bought 51% of Widerøe in 1936, but sold them again in 1939.

During the Second World War there was no civil aviation in Norway. A number of Widerøe pilots were in the resistance movement in Norway, and many lost their lives. Viggo Widerøe was put in a prison camp in Germany, and was nearly executed.

ea Plane Routes

After the war Forina bought the majority of the company, and in 1949 the company merged with Narvik based Polarfly, changing its name to Widerøes Flyveselskap & Polarfly A/S, which it kept until 1958. The airline moved its headquarters to Tromsø in Northern Norway. The airline flew taxi- and ambulance flights, in addition to scheduled flights between Oslo and Arendal. In 1951 the airline got state subsidies to fly Bodø - Svolvær - Narvik and in 1954 an agreement with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS, DNL successor) to fly Tromsø - Alta - Hammerfest - Kirkenes - Vadsø and two years later Tromsø - Narvik - Bodø, taking over all SAS' Norwegian sea plane routes. In 1966 the airline received concession to fly on a route in Helgeland between Bodø and Trondheim.

TOL

In the 1960s the Norwegian government decided to start building a network of STOL airports in Northern- and Western Norway, to connect remote places with the rest of the country. The network was tailor made to suit Widerøe and a new Canadian aircraft, the 20 seat de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. The airports were built with 800 meter long runways with flights to close cities, including either Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim, Bodø, Tromsø and/or Kirkenes. Widerøe moved its headquarters to Bodø and the first four airports opened in 1968. New airports were built during the 1970s and the last six in the late 1980s. In 1971 the airports in Sogn og Fjordane opened and in 1974 the first airports in Finnmark. Widerøe opened operative bases in Florø and Hammerfest. In 1981 new de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 aircraft were delivered, with pressurized cabins, 50 seats and flight attendants.

The airlines last sea plane was decommissioned in 1971. In total the airline operated 12 Twin Otters and 8 Dash 7s at the beginning of the 1990s. In 1992 the airline made an agreement with the Norwegian government in which the airline replaced all of its Twin Otter and Dash 7 aircraft with de Havilland Canada Dash-8-100 aircraft, seating 37. As a result of the agreement, the STOL network in Norway would be a PSO operation from 1 April 1997. The airline won all the routes in 1997, but in 2000 the airline had to surrender the route Bodø-Røst to Guard Air, but regained it after Guard Air folded. In 2003 the route was surrendered to Kato Air. Since then the airline has lost the routes to Andenes, Fagernes, Florø and Røros, though it in 2006 has recaptured the routes to Narvik and in 2007 the routes to Andenes.

From Sandefjord to the world

In 1989 the airline acquired Norsk Air AS, an airline based at Sandefjord Airport, Torp, for free from the shipping company Kosmos. The airline operated four Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft, and flew from Sandefjord to Copenhagen, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim as well as from Skien Airport, Geiteryggen to Bergen and Stavanger. In 1991 the airline changed its name to Widerøe Norsk Air, before it was amalgamated into Widerøe in 1996, the same year as the Brasilias were replaced with 50 seat Dash-8-300. Widerøe Norsk Air also operated the Brasilias between 1991 and 1993 on a route between Sandefjord / Torp - Kristiansand / Kjevik and London Gatwick Airport, but it was closed partially due to an over establishment on flights from Norway to. Today the airline operations from Sandefjord are its most profitable.

Fred. Olsen & Co. decided to buy part of Widerøe again in the late 1960s, and in 1970 Braathens SAFE bought 18% of the company. In 1991 Braathens SAFE and SAS sold to Fred Olsen, who owned 64% of the company. The other owners at that time were Torghatten Trafikkselskap, Nordlandsbanken and Fylkesbaatane i Sogn og Fjordane. In 1997 Fred Olsen sold 29% of its stock to SAS Group, who later bought the rest of the company.

Following the deregulation of the Norwegian airline market in 1994, Widerøe launched new international routes, which included flights from Bergen and Stavanger to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Newcastle in the UK, as well as from Trondheim to Copenhagen and Stockholm. For some of these operations, Widerøe acquired 76-seat Dash-8-Q400 aircraft. After Scandinavian Airlines bought Braathens in 2002, the group decided to operate Braathens' regional routes in Western Norway with the SAS Commuters Fokker 50 aircraft operating in Northern Norway. The routes in Western Norway were until then operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle, who then became a low-cost carrier. SAS Commuter left its operations in Northern Norway to Widerøe, who operate all the SAS Group's regional routes north of Trondheim.

Destinations

Widerøe announced in a press release that the airline is about to resume services between Kirkenes Airport and Murmansk, starting August 21, 2007. The 50 minute flight will depart on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 pm with flight numbers WF602 and WF603, and on Sundays at 1.15 pm (Flt Nr WF604 / WF605), with short connection time to flights to and from Oslo and Tromsø, both being important Widerøe hubs.

The airline already operated this route in the 1990s, but Widerøe had to abandon this service, because of decreasing demand and economical uncertainties, but the commercial relations between Norway and Russia have largely increased recently.

This route is mainly intended to offer the cross-border workers a direct flight, but the company also expects to attract leisure travelers to an 'exotic' destination, with safe and efficient flights.

Fleet

The Wideroe fleet includes the following aircraft (at 10 July 2008) [ [http://www.wideroe.no/modules/module_123/proxy.asp?D=2&C=416&I=3161 Widerøe fleet] ] [ [http://www.wideroe.no/modules/module_123/proxy.asp?D=2&C=12&I=3689 Widerøe to get new Q400s] ] :



Retired fleet

*8 De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter (1971)
*11 De Havilland Canada DHC-7 (1996)
*3 Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia (1996)
*22 De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter (Last scheduled flight to Båtsfjord in 2000)
*4 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 (Grounded and removed from fleet in October 2007)

Incidents and accidents

Widerøe Flight 933

* On 11 March 1982 a Twin Otter crashed into the sea near Mehamn killing all 15 people on board. It was speculated that a collision with a fighter aircraft might have caused the disaster. Investigations in 1984, 1987 and 2005 has concluded that this was not the case.

Other incidents and accidents

* On 6 May 1988 a Dash 7 crashed in Brønnøysund, killing all 36 passengers on board in the worst-ever Dash 7 accident. The accident occurred when the aircraft, on approach from Namsos Airport, descended from 1500 ft to 550 ft too early in the landing procedure, colliding with the mountain Torghatten. The reason for the descent were found to be pilot error, but no direct cause for the error were established.
* On 12 April 1990 a Twin Otter bound for Bodø crashed into the sea approximately 1 minute after take-off from Værøy, killing all 5 on board. The Accident Investigation Board found that the cause of the crash had been strong and unpredictable wind gusts during take-off, which had exceeded the plane's limits and created a break-up in the plane's tail rudder, so the plane became uncontrollable. The airport on Værøy island was deemed unsafe and later closed, and replaced with a heliport.
* On 27 October 1993 a Twin Otter crashed while approaching Namsos Airport, Høknesøra en route from Trondheim Airport, Værnes, killing the crew and 4 passengers. Having descended from 1100 ft, the aircraft were supposed to stabilize on 500 ft but instead continued to descend, until it crashed into a ridge 6 km from the airport.
* On 11 February 2000 the pilots of a Bombardier Dash 8-100 lost directional control of the aircraft after landing at Hammerfest Airport, and went off the runway. The aircraft sustained no damage, and no injuries were reported to the three crew and 31 passengers (ref: [http://www.havarikommisjonen.no/default.asp?V_ITEM_ID=29&V_LANG_ID=5 The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board] ).
* On 14 June 2001 the starboard main undercarriage of a Bombardier Dash 8-100 aircraft collapsed on landing at Båtsfjord Airport after a flight from Alta Airport, resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft. No injuries were reported to the three crew and 24 passengers on board (ref: [http://www.havarikommisjonen.no/default.asp?V_ITEM_ID=29&V_LANG_ID=5 The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board] ). The aircraft, LN-WIS, was written off and now serve as a training aircraft for firefighters at Rygge Air Station.
* On 6 January 2003 a Bombardier Dash 8-100 aircraft went off the side of the runway after landing at Vadsø Airport, resulting in substantial damage to both propellers and moderate damage on the fuselage. No injuries were reported to the three crew and 19 passengers on board. During the accident investigation, investigators discovered that a maintenance-error had been made on the aircraft brake-lines, and that this was the primary reason for the pilots losing directional control of the aircraft (ref: [http://www.havarikommisjonen.no/default.asp?V_ITEM_ID=29&V_LANG_ID=5 The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board] ).

References

*Watle, Per Arne (2004): "Oppdrift i motvind", Oslo: Abstract Forlag

External links

* [http://www.wideroe.no Widerøe]


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