About the airport
THE FIRST YEARS
In January 2007, the charter operators Star Tour, Apollo and MyTravel Airways announced that they would start operating charter flights from 1 October.
The initial terminal construction was for seven gates, with possibilities to expand to fourteen. The first phase cost was NOK 700 million and included a 16,000-square-meter (170,000 sq ft) terminal with a capacity for two million annual passengers, parking for 3000 cars and various travel facilities, such as duty-free stores, bank and restaurants.
The airport was opened on 5 October 2007. The first flight from the airport took place on 17 October to Las Palmas, Spain. The operator later increased with three more charter destinations in early 2008. At the time of the first flight, the operator had sold 95% of the seats on their flights until the end of the year. 85% of the sales were to people living in Østfold. From that day, UniBuss started a coach service from Oslo in correspondence with all departures and arrivals at the airport.
The Civil Aviation Authority introduced a non-flight limitation on the airport from 23 to 07, out of consideration for the airport’s neighbors. This was despite the municipal councils in Råde and Rygge supporting night flights. The decision was appealed, with the airport wanting to operate from 06:30 to 23:30, stating that they could lose half of Norwegian’s departures. The ministry granted such a permit on 25 January 2008.
Norwegian Air Shuttle established a base at Rygge on 14 February 2008, with a second aircraft being stationed at the airport from 13 March. From February to April, Norwegian Air Shuttle started international flights to Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Budapest, Istanbul, London, Málaga, Marrakech, Palanga, Szczecin, Valencia, Warsaw, with between two and four weekly services to each destination. In addition, the airline started two daily services to Bergen. The first Norwegian Air Shuttle plane took off at the 14 February 2008 heading for Budapest.
The same day, the Norwegian State Railways (now VY) started offering a shuttle bus service from Rygge Station on the Østfold Line to the airport. At the same time, Norwegian Business Aviation started offering executive jets from Rygge. From March, Widerøe started two daily services from Rygge to Copenhagen, the hub for their owner, Scandinavian Airlines. Apollo started flights to Chania from 11 May. Star Tour started weekly charter flights to Antalya, Chania and Palma de Mallorca during the first half of 2008.
New domestic routes were introduced to Trondheim, Stavanger, Tromsø and Bodø.
The airport had 450,000 passengers in 2008.
In January 2009, Rygge was, with 24,400 passengers, larger than Torp airport in terms of domestic traffic. From January through April, the domestic services from Rygge had captured 6% of the market share from Eastern Norway.
In October and November 2009, Ryanair established itself at the airport, and started flights to Alicante, Barcelona, Brussels, Bremen, Madrid, Milan and London.
The fastest growing airport in Europe
On 24 November, Ryanair announced that they would establish a base at Rygge in March 2010. The airline would start services to Århus, Berlin, Dublin, Weeze, Eindhoven, Gdańsk, Kraków, La Rochelle, Málaga, Munich, Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Riga, Wrocław, Valencia and Venice. In December, the company announced further routes to Faro and Zadar.
In November 2010, the instrument landing system (ILS) was upgraded from Category I to Category II. This included the installation of 800 light emitting diodes (LED) on the runway and taxiway, making Rygge the first airport in Europe with such an installation. It decreased the requirement for visibility from 800 to 300 meters (2,620 to 980 ft). The upgrades cost NOK 65 million, and made Rygge the second airport with ILS Cat II in Norway, after Stavanger Airport, Sola. The same month, Ryanair started new routes to London, Liverpool, Rome, Tampere.
From 2010 to 2011, Rygge was the fastest growing airport in Europe!
During 2011 to 2015 the airport had an average of 1,7 million passengers per year, with scheduled routes and charter operations to a large number of destinations in Europe.
Close down of the civil airport operation in 2016
The airport announced on 24 May 2016 that it would cease civilian operations by 1 November 2016, due to the new Norwegian air passenger charge, that would be imposed from 01 June 2016.
Ryanair, the airport’s largest customer had earlier announced it would pull out of Rygge if the air passenger charge was set in force. Ryanair accounted for around two thirds of traffic at the airport and served 29 destinations, of which 16 were year-round.
On 1 June 2016, Ryanair confirmed it will close its base on 29 October 2016.
Ryanair subsequently cancelled 16 routes entirely, while moving 8 routes to Sandefjord Airport, Torp and 2 routes to Oslo Airport, Gardermoen.
Ryanair informed that the tax forced them to halve their traffic to and from Norway.
The last civilian commercial aircraft to depart was an empty Ryanair Boeing 737-800 on a ferry flight to Göteborg on 30 October 2016.
NEW OWNERS OF THE AIRPORT
In March 2017, Jotunfjell Partners AS, a Norwegian investment company, www.jfp.no , aqcuired the civil airport owner company RSL AS, including all infra-structure, from the previous owners, Olav Thon Gruppen ASA, Orkla ASA, DNB ASA and Østfold Fylkeskommune.
The plan was to re-open the airport per April 2020, and most was in place, but due to the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX and unclear forward visibility on when the MAX could fly again, a number interested airlines could not confirm their aircraft allocation and route planning, for the April 2020 opening, resulting in the Board of RSL AS in September 2019 to postpone the re-opeing until 2021.
The work to secure airlines and seat capacity for 2021 opening is already on-going, with several airlines showing good interest for flying into Oslo Rygge Low Cost Airport from 2021.
About the owners
Jotunfjell Partners (JFP) was established as an investment company in 2001 prior to which it had been an advisory company. Over the years JFP has acquired 35 + companies, a majority of which have been in the retail sector.
JFP has primarily a Nordic focus, but has international ambitions. Most investments have been made in “distress situations” or where large companies or private equity make “loss exits” JFP has established a strategy of keeping and developing companies which become viable.
Our main strategy is to be the sole or majority owner of our portfolio companies. Enabling dedicated involvement in turnaround situations, as well as profiting on synergies between our businesses. We do however form alliances with other owners in circumstances where this is necessary from a financing perspective, or desirable from a strategic perspective.