Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Oct. 25, 2016


Runway upgrades may cause sharp drop in flights, tourism next summer
Replacing the lights and smoothing out the surface on the runway at Svalbard Airport may severely affect tourism next summer, according to industry officials. The runway is scheduled to be closed nights during June and July, thus preventing one of two flights usually offered daily during the summer by Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian Airlines. “Night planes make it possible during the summer to reach Longyearbyen from abroad without staying in Oslo,” said Visit Svalbard Director Ronny Brunvoll. “That opportunity will largely fall away if this becomes reality. That will surely result in fewer foreign guests, although we cannot predict the scope.” Morten Ulsnes, the airport’s manager, said the project must be done during the summer due to the repaving work. He said the airlines have contacted him since the timeline of the project became official and efforts will be made to find a solution to accommodate the number of flights the airlines want to offer.

Major overall of city hall, public library underway
A 6.5-million kroner reconstruction of Longyearbyen’s main municipal building will also incorporate a public library twice the size and with more modern features compared to the existing one, according to city officials.  “It will be opened up to Rabalder where the entrance will be,” said Victoria Windstad, the city government’s manager of the project, referring to the cafe in the attached Kulturhuset building. “A tiled entrance hall with the shoe area and newspaper section will be the first thing you come to. Then the library will contain departments for all age groups.” Access to the city’s brochures and public documents will also be available extended hours via the library, even when no staff is present. Demolishing of the existing city offices began earlier this month and is scheduled to continue until mid-November, resulting in less individual office space and more open working spaces. Construction is scheduled to be completed by April 1 and all spaces reopened by mid-April.