Oman low-cost start-up Salam Air is on track to launch operations before the end of the year after taking delivery of the first of an initial fleet of three leased Airbus A320s it will operate on a mix of domestic and international services. The aircraft arrived in Muscat on November 18, 2016 to coincide with the country’s National Day, which celebrates independence from Portuguese control in 1650.
The initial aircraft, an almost ten-year-old A320 that previously saw operation with LATAM Airlines in Brazil, will be joined by two further examples once internal configurations changes have been made to the aircraft. They will be used to inaugurate domestic flights to Salalah and international links to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia following a short period of training with the airline already having secured its preliminary operating licence.
CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING IMAGE to view footage of the Salam Air's first aircraft arriving in Muscat, Oman...
The next stage of growth will see the carrier further expand into foreign countries with destinations within a three hour flight time particularly within East Africa and Indian Subcontinent the main focus. “Our focus is on Oman and the region,” said Eng. Khalid bin Hilal Al Yahmadi, chairman Salam Air and chief executive officer of Muscat National Development and Investment Company, which is backing the start-up.
Salam Air will initially offer up to four flights per day between Muscat and Salalah, competing directly with national carrier Oman Air. The Dubai and Jeddah markets are also served by the state-owned carrier, while Emirates Airline and flydubai also serve the Muscat – Dubai city pair and Saudia flies the Muscat – Jeddah route.
“Salam Air is history in the making, and I am very proud to be part of it,” said former François Bouteiller, the recently appointed chief executive officer of the airline. “Given the proximity to 80 per cent of the world’s population, the Middle East is one of the fastest growing regions in the aviation industry, with Oman well positioned for growth. I look forward to harnessing the sultanate’s full potential as a premier and affordable destination at the crossroads of continents.”
Aviation and tourism are key sectors in Oman’s strategy to develop economic diversification. The new airline will operate alongside national entity Oman Air to fuel further growth and its formation was first revealed in May last year when the Sultanate’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation launched an initial ‘Request for Information’ (RFI) process inviting any parties interested in setting up a low-cost commercial air transport services operator based in the country.
“The national budget airline will provide access to economical and efficient means of transport and further advance the aviation sector in Oman. The constant growth of the aviation sector in the region is what drove us to explore the sector and create value for Oman,” explained Eng. Al Yahmadi.