MUSCAT: In preparation for the opening of the new Muscat International Airport, the first trial flight will take off from the airport on December 23.
This was announced by Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, at the two-day ACI Airport Exchange 2017 at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre here.
“The first test flight from Muscat International Airport will take off on December 23. Depending on the feedback from this, a decision will be taken on the opening of the airport,” said the minister.
Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) trials have already been conducted at the airport.
With the theme, ‘Leading airports towards operational excellence, profitability and customer service’, the 11th edition of the forum is hosted by Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) under the patronage of the Minister of Transport and Communications.
More than 1,500 participants are participating in the forum, representing over 48 countries around the world.
At the outset, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company, Aiman bin Ahmed bin Sultan al Hosni, highlighted the importance of such forums in enhancing the levels of cooperation to meet the challenges in the civil aviation sector while working together to raise the safety and security standards.
Aiman al Hosni also noted the significant growth in passenger numbers in the current year with expectations that the total number of passengers will reach 17 million by the end of year, which is equivalent to four times the size of the Sultanate’s population. He also stressed the positive performance of the country’s airports in Muscat, Salalah, Duqm and Sohar.
The opening session included a presentation by Olivier Jankovec, Director-General of Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
He explained the rapid advancements that have taken place in the last few years on airport operational management and the role technology has played in this regard.
Besides addressing the positive outlook for the civil aviation sector as a whole, Jankovec also highlighted its role in the generation of direct and indirect jobs, in addition to its pivotal role as infrastructure for the tourism and logistics sectors in particular.
He also pointed out the passenger growth in airports in the Middle East such as Dubai, Doha and Muscat, which are a good example of the feasibility of investing in the infrastructure of international airports.
Patti Chau, Regional Director of the ACI Europe, noted the promising growth in the civil aviation sector. She pointed out that the total number of airline passengers globally are expected to reach 15.7 billion per year by 2031, while the volume of global air freight is forecast to grow to 171 million tonnes annually over the same period.
Chau stressed the need to increase the capacity of airports in the region by increasing investments, while promoting the role played by the private sector in the privatisation of airport operations and management.
The morning of the event included a general discussion panel, including Aiman al Hosni, CEO of OAMC, Dr Sani Sener, President and CEO of TAV Airports, and Badr Mohammed al Meer, COO of Hamad International Airport.
The exhibition was also officially opened. It sees the participation of over 50 aviation exhibitors from around the world, including airlines, service providers and educational institutions. The exhibition witnessed a huge number of visitors who were briefed on the latest global technologies used in the aviation sector.
In the afternoon, the forum featured a series of specialised workshops and discussion sessions with more than 120 participants. Workshop themes included ‘Security and Crisis Management, Airport Operations, Digital Innovation and Big Data Conference and Airport Development’.
Commenting on the conclusion of the first day of the forum, Aiman al Hosni said, “The great attendance and interaction witnessed on the first day of the forum was achieved by bringing together the leading experts in the sector to exchange best-practice experience and knowledge. We strive to meet the aspirations of passengers and make good returns at the investment level, so discussing the various aspects of airport management with such an esteemed group of experts is invaluable.”
“Increasing airport capability and capacity and ensuring continued excellence in airport management are essential components to support the growth of the transportation and tourism sectors. This forum presents an excellent opportunity for knowledge-sharing and the exchange of best operational practices from some of the leading figures in airport management from around the world. Airports are the main gateway to our beautiful nation, and hosting this important industry forum underlines Oman’s growing status in the aviation sector, region and globally,” Aiman Al Hosni concluded.
The forum, which is being held at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, is considered one of the most important gatherings on the global aviation calendar. This is the last ACI meeting for 2017, after five previous meetings held throughout the year in the five continents of the world.