Ryanair is shutting its Oslo base in reaction to the Norwegian government imposing a tax on flights.

The budget airline giant says 900,000 passengers will be affected by the closure of its base at Rygge, Oslo’s third airport, from October 29 – equivalent to half of its annual Norwegian traffic.

A total of 16 routes will be cancelled as a result of the NOK80 (£6.60) departure tax, including from Edinburgh and Dublin.

The airline is to switch its Stansted and Vilnius routes to Oslo Gardermoen airport where it can benefit from low-cost airport agreements.

A remaining eight routes will move to Oslo Torp airport, since Oslo Rygge has advised it cannot sustain reduced operations, according to Ryanair.

The move will see four aircraft transferred out of Norway to other countries.

Ryanair chief commercial officer David O’Brien said: “The illogical decision of the Norwegian government to introduce a flat rate environmentally unfriendly tax unfairly penalises passengers on efficient, green, airlines such as Ryanair in favour of passengers on high fare, half empty, gas guzzling airlines, and destroys the cost competitiveness of privately owned Oslo Rygge Airport in favour of the state owned Avinor monopoly.

“As a result, Ryanair has no choice but to close its Oslo Rygge base which will result in our Norwegian traffic being cut in half.

“Since Oslo Rygge has confirmed it will be unable to sustain reduced non-based services offered by Ryanair, we will move our remaining 8 Rygge routes to Oslo Torp from October 30.

“We will also move our London route to Oslo Gardermoen, where we avail of a low-cost agreement at Stansted, which will increase to a three times daily service, and our daily Vilnius service will also switch to Gardermoen, from October 30.

“We will then move our Rygge-based aircraft, pilots and cabin crew to other bases in Ryanair’s 33 country network.

“This retrograde tax will result in the loss of 900,000 passengers per annum and 1,000 jobs for Oslo Rygge.

“This tax will severely damage Norwegian tourism, particularly around regional airports.”

He claimed that the Norwegian government has “instantly made Norway uncompetitive and less attractive to airlines and tourists”.

O’Brien added: “The Italian government, which hiked passenger taxes in January, has already said it will review its decision, given the impact its tax will have on its airports.

“Sadly, the Norwegian government have chosen to sacrifice 1,000 jobs at Oslo Rygge for reasons which defy explanation. This is a black day for Oslo Rygge, for Norway and for Norwegian tourism.”

Norwegian prime minster Erna Solberg reportedly said: “We can’t let decisions be dictated to us by a company that has already put pressure on a number of countries concerning taxes and costs.”