The Gibraltar Government has announced that FONNAFLY, a Norwegian Helicopter Company, will be offering sightseeing flights around the Rock from 1 May 2019. The inclusion of such a service has been a long-term aim of the Government in order to supplement the already extensive offer of tourist excursions available to tourists visiting Gibraltar.
FONNAFLY started operations in Norway in 2004 and operate a fleet of 13 helicopters. They presently offer sightseeing flights from five locations in Norway and flew over 2,000 sightseeing flights in 2018. The company also offers taxi flights, VIP transfers and underslung load operations in Norway.
This announcement is the culmination of many years work by John-Erik Sogn, a Norwegian pilot living in Marbella, who has been in contact with the Gibraltar Government for a number of years. He devised the mitigations required to meet the strict environmental conditions imposed by the Department of the Environment in order to be able to operate in Gibraltar and has now partnered with FONNAFLY to bring his dream to fruition.
FONNAFLY will be deploying one EC 130 helicopter, equipped with seven passenger seats, and two pilots to the Airport. Each sightseeing flight will take off from the Airport and will fly around the Rock in one direction before reversing direction to repeat the flight in the other direction – this in order to ensure that passengers on both sides of the helicopter get uninterrupted views of the Rock. Each flight will last between 10 and 15 minutes. The package, which is particularly aimed at the cruise ship market, will give passengers the opportunity to take photos of their cruise ship with the Rock in the background.
The company also hopes to be able to develop the helicopter services offered to include taxi flights to Malaga Airport and other destinations in the future.
Minister Gilbert Licudi, the Minister with Responsibility for Commercial Aviation commented “I am absolutely delighted to welcome FONNAFLY to Gibraltar and am pleased to be able to announce this exciting addition to the Gibraltar tourist product. As a private pilot who has seen the Rock from the air on a number of occasions, I know that the Tours will provide fabulous views for the passengers.”
John-Erik Sogn said “I am glad to see that the years of work I have put into this project are finally going to bear fruit. I am delighted that flights will be starting in May and excited at the potential that basing a helicopter in Gibraltar can bring. Besides the Government, I would also like to thank the Ministry of Defence, in particular the Station Commander, for their help in agreeing to provide hangarage for the helicopter during our initial operations.”
Jon Ove Velure, the CEO of FONNAFLY, stated “FONNAFLY have long been interested in the potential of Gibraltar for sightseeing flights. As a busy cruise ship destination, with an incredible Rock formation dominating the location and views over to Africa we are convinced the trips we will be offering will be successful. We look to a long and fruitful relationship with Gibraltar and can’t wait to start services in May.”