First flight lands in new Duqm airport

Duqm: Duqm received its first aircraft (B737-900) marking the beginning of full-fledged operations of the new Duqm airport.

Duqm is now Oman’s fourth main airport after Muscat, Salalah and Suhar. Top aviation officials told the Observer that the airport will be marketed as an international hub, especially for flights from China, in the future with an industrial corridor being set up there.

With moderate weather and a long stretch of unexplored beaches, Al Wusta region has a lot of potential to be tapped with this airport. Duqm has the potential to be the next summer destination of Oman. Said al Handhali, a hospitality industry HR executive based in Duqm, told the Observer that temperatures during the peak summer months of June and July are in the range of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius aided by strong, fresh winds. “We need good facilities for entertainment and leisure to attract tourists as well as make the place livable for future residents.” Duqm can be a good night stopover for tourists visiting Salalah during Khareef season provided it offers more facilities than a couple of star hotels.

He said the medical and other facilities such as fuel stations have improved in the past few years. Duqm is just 500 km from Muscat by road compared with Salalah, which is nearly 1,000 km from the capital. “The Ministry of Tourism and the Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) are working in this direction. Hopefully, we should see some projects like amusement parks in the future,” he said. Meanwhile, Duqm Airport, which commenced operations in 2014, will enter into a new phase of development on Monday with the opening of the new passenger terminal. So far, the airport has been handling six daily flights a week of Oman Air.

The national airline increased the number of services in recent years to cater to the growing needs of investment community and the Omani nationals who come to work at the Duqm Port. The second airline, SalamAir, has indicated to the Observer it would explore Duqm as a new domestic destination. On Sunday, officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), Oman Airports and the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) celebrated the arrival and departure of the last flight from the current terminal building.

With the ability to handle 500,000 passengers annually, the airport can receive most of the modern-day aircraft. With the construction on Duqm refinery and Chinese industrial corridor getting under way, Duqm is expected to receive around 100,000 residential and temporary workers in the next few years. For this growing population, Duqm Airport will be the gateway to Oman and rest of the world. It has the capacity to handle cargo to the tune of 25,000 tonnes a year.