Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Budget Airlines in Oman

I am staring at my computer screen wide-eyed. Today's newspapers tell me that new budget airlines in Oman are soon to become a reality!!!

From the Oman Observer
June 27, 2013

New budget airlines

Private players to be allowed to operate flights — By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH — Private players may soon be allowed to operate in the Sultanate’s low cost aviation sector as two to three companies along with the national carrier Oman Air are doing feasibility studies to explore the possibility. The Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) is also considering the issue positively keeping in mind huge potential for budget airlines in the Sultanate.

According to Salim al Aufy, Chief Executive Officer of PACA, investors are looking at launching low cost carriers in domestic as well as international destinations, while the Sultanate’s civil aviation authority is also positive about the move. “We are open to this option to help boost residents’ travel options by allowing suitable partners in this sector. It is like serving local interests with international backing,” said Al Aufy, who was Guest of Honour at the Arab Aviation and Media Summit 2013.

The two-day summit began yesterday at Hilton Salalah Resort with the participation of about 100 journalists from 10 Middle Eastern countries. He said the current share of low carrier airlines in Oman was about 7 per cent with likely growth potential of 10 per cent in coming years. “We don’t want to flood the low cost sector at the same time we don’t want to starve our own passengers. We are taking a balanced approach to ensure better results,” he said.

The final decision on operation of low cost airlines, according to Al Aufi, is likely by the end of this year or early next year. He also mooted the idea of launching helicopter and amphibious services, corporate and executive jet services as many other steps being taken by the PACA to ensure better aviation transport system in the Sultanate. Al Aufy gave an overview of developments on Muscat Internation Airport and other regional airports in the Sultanate. The new terminal at Muscat International Airport, according to him, would be completed by 2014 and will have the capacity to handle 12 million passengers annually.

Further expansions planned in three subsequent phases will ultimately boost the airport’ capacity to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers when the demand is required. The new terminal at Salalah Airport envisages an expansion of capacity to 1 million passengers annually by 2014. The airport has been designed to allow for further expansions to cater for future demand growth to 2 and 6 million passengers annually when the demand is required.

“Salalah Airport may get operational earlier than Muscat Airport,” he said. Al Aufy expressed satisfaction over works on Sohar, Ras al Hadd and Duqm airports and said: “We have done flight test in Sohar and runways in Ras al Hadd and Duqm have been finalised. All the airports are of international standards by design.”

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