Uppsala airport gets go ahead for low-cost flyers

The Uppsala military airport Ärna has been given the environmental all clear to begin hosting low-cost flyers, the County Administrative Board announced in a statement on Friday.

Uppsala county came to the conclusion after a two year environmental review of the Armed Forces-owned airport’s suitability to handle commercial flights.

“This is naturally a historic moment where we conclude that the conditions in place are in accordance with the operations that the company plans to conduct,” Mattias Sjölund at Uppsala Airport AB said in a statement on Friday.

According to the county decision, dated March 17th, the airport is cleared to handle a maximum of 23,400 civil flight movements (take offs and landings) per annum. The airport is also licensed to handle a maximum of 4,300 military flight movements.

The board states that it has listened to broad criticism from local residents and environmental groups over the new commercial airport and the Armed Forces have been instructed to install noise mitigation barriers to protect the 60 homes affected in the vicinity.

The application to the county was submitted in 2008 by the Armed Forces who had the intention to sell part of the airport to Uppsala Airport AB in order to reduce their own costs for the use of Ärna.

Uppsala municipality voted to approve the application on May 25th 2009 by 44 votes to 37.

Friday’s decision was taken by the Uppsala county Environmental Testing Delegation which is responsible for deciding on permits for environmentally hazardous activities. The decision can now be appealed to the government.

With the left-green opposition having stated that if in power they would reject the application, the outcome of the autumn general election will have a direct bearing on the future of commercial air traffic at Uppsala-Ärna.

Uppsala Airport AB told local newspaper that they hope to launch commercial flights in the spring of 2011 with possible destinations including Frankfurt, Paris and Spanish cities.

Ärna airport was founded in 1943 as a military airfield and is located 75 kilometres north of Stockholm and 40 kilometres north of the main Stockholm Arlanda airport.

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Sweden stops flights to Iran over safety concerns

Sweden on Friday stopped direct flights to Iran, citing "unclarity" around the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane earlier this week where 176 people were killed.

Sweden stops flights to Iran over safety concerns

The Swedish Transport Agency said in a statement on Friday that it decided to temporarily withdraw the traffic permit for Iran Air for flights between Sweden and Iran, citing “unclarity around the accident and safety for civilian air traffic.”

Iran Air is the only airline that flies directly between Sweden and Iran.

“We understand that this could create problems for travellers.

But the passengers' safety is paramount and that's why we have decided to temporarily halt the flights,” Gunnar Ljungberg, head of sea and air traffic at The Swedish Transport Agency, said in a statement.

All 176 people on board died when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq over the killing of a top Iranian general.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

The Swedish foreign ministry on Friday confirmed that 17 of the victims were “domiciled” in Sweden, with seven being citizens and 10 registered residents.

“We demand that the incident is investigated speedily, impartially and transparently,” Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter.

While Iran Air's flights to Sweden were halted by a government agency, other airlines have voluntarily decided to halt flights to Iran.

Austrian Airlines announced late Thursday that its flight to Tehran that day was ordered to return to Vienna after a stopover in Sofia.

German group Lufthansa said Friday it was cancelling all flights to and from Tehran until January 20 “due to the unclear security situation for the airspace around Tehran airport”.