A chat with Avinor


Following the launch of the Aviation Climate Solutions at the Sustainable Global Aviation Summit in Geneva, we sat down with Olav Mosvold Larsen and Tom Erling Moen of Avinor to discuss their contributions to the publication.

Q: Avinor, particularly at Oslo Airport, seem to have a lot of environmental policies, with four projects featured in the Aviation Climate Solutions. How did the environmental culture at Avinor come about?

Olav: I think the environmental culture at Avinor came about due to a combination of decades of public policies, attention and legislation here in Norway combined with a strong feeling of environmental responsibility in the public and amongst our employees and top management. It does in many ways make perfect business sense to make smart environmental decisions and I would argue that it is not special for Avinor and Norway. You will see the same in other Northern European countries, and especially in the Nordic countries -- Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.


Q: It looks like Avinor is one of the organisations leading the way on the upscaling of sustainable alternative fuels, with Oslo being the first to integrate biofuels into the airport's hydrant system. How do you see the future for aviation biofuels in Norway and the rest of the world?

Olav: There is no doubt that we need to see massive reductions in global carbon emissions. The aviation industry has taken a very proactive role, which is good. But the proof of the pudding lies with the eating. We are extremely dependent on air travel for domestic and international purposes up here in Norway, so it makes business sense and ethical sense to see where we can contribute. It is in many ways risk management. SAS and Norwegian operate very modern fleets of aircraft, but where can we, the main airport operator contribute? Well, we can do something on the fuel side. Airlines come and go, but the airport is bound to stay, so to speak. We have good connections with politicians, NGOs and industry leaders throughout the country and it feels like the right thing to do. We would not like to end up in a situation where all the biofuels goes to the road sector, and aviation is left with no fuel and a bad reputation. There are obviously still technological barriers to overcome to produce biojetfuel at fossil fuel prices, but we have the resources in Norway, both in terms of biomass, finance, know-how and motivation, so there should be opportunities! Avinor will do our bit to realize flight on Norwegian wood.


Q: Your renewable energy project, which uses snow stored over the winter to cool the terminal during the summer is particularly innovative. How did this idea come about and do you have any advice for any other airports operating in similar conditions who might find a use for this system?

Tom: Snow has been used for cooling food and drinks for centuries in Norway, and we also used to export ice for the gin and tonics around Europe before the refrigerator was invented, so this is not new to us. We have been joking about cooling terminals with snow for years, but it was not until our stringent energy criteria for the terminal extension at OSL teamed up with some of the most talented Norwegian engineers and consultancies, this idea took off. I believe all operators at our latitudes could look into this and other interesting concepts for storing and utilizing thermal energy.


Q: Readers of the Aviation Climate Solutions will appreciate that collaboration is an essential feature of aviation efficiency. Avinor's point merge system, supplemented by HOPE and now curved approaches, is a prime example of this. Tests of the curved approaches have been successful and are due to be rolled out full scale soon. Can you see similar collaborative efforts working at other airports?

Olav: We were the first ANSP in the world to implement Point Merge back in 2011, developed in collaboration with Eurocontrol. We can't deny that despite collaboration with the airlines, it did not deliver on all criteria at launch. But collaboration is also key for improvements, and staff from the airlines, Avinor's ANSP division, Oslo Airport and the Civil Aviation Authorities have made this a success by introducing the project HOPE to address the underperformance. That applies not least to the thousands of Curved Approaches now carried out. Airlines, airports and airport neighbours would like to reduce fuel burn, noise and carbon emissions. Collaboration makes it possible. We are continuing with these ideas at four other airports here in Norway and there are several excellent projects taking place all over Europe as we speak. Curved approaches in Vienna and CEM (collaborative environmental management) in Manchester are just two of them.


Q: As well as providing top-rate public transport links, Oslo Airport has also prioritised accommodating zero-emissions vehicles, with charging points on site. Have you found that this has encouraged the uptake of renewably-fueled vehicles among passengers? 

Tom: With an abundance of rain and thus cheap hydropower, electric cars have been a relevant climate and LAQ solution in Norway for years. Generous subsidies and other policy initiatives to stimulate transition to zero-emission cars have made Norway into one of the biggest markets for electric cars in the world. We do not have data indicating that there is a causal relationship between the more than 200 charging points at Oslo Airport and the sale of electric cars among passengers, but it is one of many small pieces in the puzzle that picture the future of transport. We are happy to contribute, and many of our employees drive electric cars now - if they are not part of the 68 per cent using public transport to and from Oslo Airport. I should probably also mention that we are working on all three zero emission platforms and have also procured a hydrogen car used by the airport patrol, established a H2 filling station open for both airport and private cars, as well as testing second generation biofuels for our heavy duty snow removal equipment.