Oman Airports Management Company, sponsor of this year’s World Routes Strategy Summit, has bold ambitions to expand as the Omani government undertakes significant investment in airport infrastructure in Oman.
Over the next five years, airport infrastructure in Oman will undergo a complete change and overhaul to accommodate the rapid growth in demand with the existing Muscat and Salalah airports are being upgraded with the construction of large new ‘state of the art’ terminals to replace existing facilities and three new regional airports are being constructed on greenfield sites in strategic locations across the country.
The HUB spoke to Eng. Khalfan Said AlShueili, Readiness General Manager, Oman Airports Management Company during World Routes to learn more about developments in the country.
Q) Which key new air services have you attracted in the past 12 months among your airport portfolio and how will these meet with your development plans for the future?
A) "In Muscat we have attracted three new airlines during the past 12 months. This includes DHL cargo flights which have operated once weekly from/to Dubai with a Boeing 757 from March 1, 2013. Cargolux freighter flights also started to Muscat on June 29, 2013 with a once weekly service with a B747-8 from Luxemburg to Hong Kong: Cargolux have already filed to increase their flights to two weekly flights effective from mid October 2013. SpiceJet, the Indian low-cost airline, started flights to Muscat on August 29, 2013 with three weekly flights with the B737-800 aircraft from Ahmedabad.
"In Salalah we attracted two new Airlines during the past 12 months - flydubai started a three times weekly link from Dubai with its B737-800 aircraft effective from May 21, 2013. Qatar Airways also started four times weekly flights from Doha on May 22, 2013 using Airbus A320 equipment.
"It is very important to continuously and progressively attract airlines to Oman, as when the new airports open in Muscat and Salalah, OAMC will be expected to attract more airlines and frequencies to these airports which will have a higher capacity to accommodate more airlines."
Q) What are your key target markets for future network development? Which are the growing markets from/to Oman?
A) "We are not focusing on one specific market, we are seeking to attract airlines from various regions of the world such as Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and USA. Historically markets in Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent have been rapidly growing to Oman, but we are targeting a wider market segment and not to depend on one source market."
Q) The global aviation market has faced a challenging period. How has that impacted your development over the past couple of years?
A) "It has not impacted our development, as traffic levels to Muscat has been growing at an average rate of 13 per cent during the last two years and the aircraft movement traffic has been growing at an average rate of 9 per cent during the last two years. However, we are currently facing constraints during the peak hours in Muscat.
"In terms of Airport development we are continuously making improvements to the existing airports to increase capacity and improve service levels and facilities in order to cater for the increasing traffic levels. The new Airport development in terms of construction and design have not been reduced/slowed and both airport projects of Muscat and Salalah are continuing on full swing."
Q) What will be the key drivers of your airport infrastructure projects in Oman over the coming five years?
A) "Over the next five years, airport infrastructure in Oman will undergo a complete change and overhaul as we strive to accommodate the rapid growth we are experiencing and position our industry for the future. The Omani government is currently undertaking significant investment in airport infrastructure in Oman.
"The existing Muscat and Salalah airports are being upgraded with the construction of large new ‘state of the art’ terminals to replace existing facilities and a large amount of associated infrastructure including a second runway in Muscat, new control towers and ATM facilities etc are also under construction. In addition three new regional airports are being constructed on greenfield sites in strategic locations across the country.
"These new facilities, particularly in the case of Muscat and Salalah will represent a quantum leap in terms of existing facilities. This is both in terms of size (the new Muscat Terminal will handle up to 12 million ppa in the first phase and at over 350000sqm is over seven times larger than our existing terminal building) and technology, as we adopt many of the latest technological advancements being seen within the industry for the benefit of both our customer airlines and the travelling public.
"The challenges for the Airport Operator of putting all this in place and turning these facilities operational is immense in a country with a relatively young aviation industry. Recruitment and training of new staff to operate these facilities to world class standards is a major challenge and has already commenced."
Q) how important is it for the business strategy that you have a strong home carrier like Oman Air?
A) "Very important, currently 62 per cent of our passenger traffic is contributed by Oman Air, for this reason we have to cater for them and to ensure that our facilities meet their business needs and expectations. Recently we have added extra facilities for Oman Air to improve their levels of services such as a Dedicated Premium Class Lounge, Dedicated check in counters for economy class passengers and a separate landside vehicle drop off and access point to the check in counters for premium class passengers."
Q) What are your ambitions for the next five years?
A) "Over the next five years we have a number of challenges and ambitions as a business. As a business we will move our operations into a number of brand new facilities. Our ambitions will be for smooth and seamless transitions into our new facilities and then quickly building a reputation through a focus on efficiency and customer service of these new airports being ranked amongst the leading airport facilities in the world. Obviously we will have to attract new airlines to operate into our new airports, and to improve our passenger experience and service, whilst maintaining healthy profitability."
You can learn more about developments in Oman in the below video interview with . Khalfan Said AlShueili, Readiness General Manager, Oman Airports Management Company.