Business and tourism links between Scotland and Norway are expanding with the launch of a new air service linking Shetland and Bergen.
Norwegian airline Bergen Air Transport, which operates scheduled, charter and cargo flights from the city, will launch a twice weekly service from Sumburgh Airport on 24 November. The airline will operate a 12 seat Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft on the route.
The new service hopes to capitalise on established trade links between Shetland and Norway, particularly in the energy and marine sectors. Bergen, situated on the west coast of Norway, is a major hub for oil and gas, maritime activities and marine industries, including seafood and fish farming.
The new service is being supported by funding of £70,470 from economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). In early 2014, HIE and Bergen Air Transport consulted Shetland businesses and received a positive response regarding potential use of the service.
Norway is an important trading partner with Scotland. Figures show that Norway generated the highest number of business travel and tourism trips in Scotland, accounting for 31,000 trips in the first three quarters of 2013, with an average spend per trip of £548.
The scheduled service is also open to leisure passengers, with Monday and Thursday departures allowing for extended weekend breaks.
Rachel Hunter, HIE’s Shetland Area Manager, said: “There are already strong ties between Shetland and Norway, especially in the oil & gas and aquaculture industries. Good transport links are essential to a successful and globally competitive region. These new weekday flights will allow much greater ease of travel, with businesses benefitting from reduced travel costs and improved productivity through reduced time spent travelling.
“Over time, it is hoped that this improved connectivity will facilitate even stronger business links between Shetland and Norway.”
Tom Roll, business development manager of Bergen Air Transport, said: “Since we introduced our plans earlier this year, we have had the pleasure of working closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Airports, and we take this opportunity to acknowledge the support received.
“The service between the two airports represents a very effective connection and we trust that the business communities in Shetland will find the service attractive. We are very excited and eager to start up and we look forward to discussing further expansion of the service should the demand be there.
Inglis Lyon, managing director of airport operator HIAL, said: “This is Bergen Air Transport’s first route outside of Norway and we are delighted to welcome them to Scotland. We know from research that Norway is an incredibly important trading partner for Scotland and this new service will cement the already strong business ties between Shetland and Norway.
“Sumburgh is the fastest growing airport in Scotland and a well-established hub for the energy, aquaculture and fishing industries. By enhancing links between Scotland and Norway, we believe this new service will open up further trading opportunities between our two countries.
“This new route comes during a period of exceptional growth at Sumburgh Airport and underlines the increasingly important role the airport plays, not just in growing the Shetland economy, but in creating opportunities for growth across a range of industries that ultimately benefit the entire Scottish economy.”
The service will commence on 24 November 2014, with flights operating on Mondays and Thursdays, although additional flights could be added in future subject to demand. Flight time between Sumburgh and Bergen is 70 minutes.
Inbound flights will depart Bergen at 0900 (local time), arriving at Sumburgh at 0910 (Local time). The return flights will depart Sumburgh at 0945 (local time), arriving Bergen at 1155 (local time).
One-way business fares will range from £190 for economy to £475 fully flexible. Leisure fares, available on limited basis, will start at £99 each way. Promotional fares will be available for early bookings.
Flights can be booked at www.bergenair.co.uk which will be live from 14 November.
HIE is supporting Bergen Air Transport with the cost of operating flights between November 2014 and April 2015.
About Bergan Air Transport:
Bergen Air Transport is a small independent airline based at Bergen Airport. It has successfully operated one other scheduled route between Bergen and Notodden in Norway for 14 years, also using the King Air B200 aircraft. The Bergen-Notodden service currently operates six days per week, and carries around 4,500 passengers per year.
In addition, the airline successfully carried out more than 200 air taxi/charter operations to/from airports all over Europe last year.