The first flight from the new Muscat International Airport will take off at 6 pm on March 20, the opening day. Last flight from the existing airport will leave at 3 pm the same day. Announcing the transfer plan from existing airport to the new airport at a press conference on Wednesday, Dr Mohammed bin Nasser Ali al Za’abi, CEO, Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), said all preparations for airport opening are proceeding as planned. These include the readiness of Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) and ground handling services by Oman Aviation Handling Company as well as air operator and national carrier Oman Air.

A total of 177 flights will be taking off/landing at the new airport once it is opened, he said. “We hope to serve 17,000 passengers a day with 177 flights operating a day after the opening.” Dr Al Za’abi said an integrated transfer plan, based on the best international procedures and practices, has been prepared. The transfer plan is accompanied by an ‘information plan’ aimed at transmitting details that will help ease movement from the current airport to the new airport. Dr Al Za’abi said some flights will be rescheduled in advance coordination with the airlines.

He said the ground equipment will be transferred during the specified transfer period, while the transfer of equipment will begin from noon on March 20. The other offices will be transferred by the authorities operating them in coordination with the Readiness Team. A media plan has been prepared for the transfer, which aims to notify passengers, airlines, travel and tourism agencies, citizens and residents that the airport will be transferred to the new terminal on March 20, he said. The plan includes sending text messages to all passengers, citizens and residents in various languages to inform them about the transfer and the issue of official letters to all parties, including the media, airlines and others.

It also includes the preparation of a short film highlighting the roads connecting the airport and the entry/exit routes to and from the airport. The location of the new terminal will be updated on Google and advertisements will be placed on social media, in addition to advertisements in local and foreign newspapers. Billboards will be placed at the current airport and streets of Muscat Governorate as of March 1. Media plan also includes advertisements on TV and publications in many languages, including Urdu and Hindi in workers’ complexes. Leaflets will be distributed on airplanes. Commenting on the works carried out to ensure operational readiness of the new airport, Dr Za’abi said 40 tests have been carried out so far out of the 45 targeted tests, in which 21,000 participants and volunteers participated.

The plan is to have 26,000 participants at the end of all tests, in addition to the implementation of a trial evacuation with the participation of more than 4,000 people. He said 786 simulated flights have been carried out using 82,000 bags. All trials will be completed on March 14. “We have taken the best security measures in place as we don’t want to compromise on the safety of the passengers and property,” he said. The new airport can accommodate 40 flights per hour, with 118 counters for clearing travel procedures, including 22 e-gates and 10 carousels for handling bags, including eight for international flights.

The existing airport, which was opened in 1973, will be closed for the time being. However, Oman Aviation Group is studying all options to make the best use of it without demolishing it. Shaikh Aiman bin Ahmed al Hosni, CEO of OAMC, said “all the airlines, captains and others have been informed regarding the change of the apron, the terminal, taxiway and parking by way of NOTAM well in advance.”