New Muscat Airport offers diverse business options

By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT: Jan 28 – Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), the state-owned entity responsible for operating and managing the nation’s international and domestic airports, says it is making headway in the award of licenses to operators and concessionaires selected to provide various commercial, retail, F&B, cargo handling, hospitality and other services at the new Muscat International Airport. The appointment of operators and concessionaires, undertaken through a competitive selection process, is being pursued in parallel with ongoing efforts to achieve the completion of the multibillion dollar upgrade of Oman’s flagship gateway, according to a key official of OAMC.
911464“We are getting suitably mobilized — along with the various stakeholders, operators and concessionaires —towards inaugurating the new airport given the progress being made in its construction, hopefully by the end of this year,” said Dr Khalfan Said al Shueili (pictured), Readiness General Manager. In Requests for Proposals (RfPs) issued over the past couple of years, OAMC invited local and international companies to bid for a series of contracts and licenses for the provision of a diverse array of services that are integral to the operation of a world-class gateway.
Up for grabs are licenses for the operation of shopping, food & beverage and other branded retail outlets, facilities management services, ICT support and maintenance, ground handling and cargo handling, maintenance — repair — overhaul (MRO) services for aircraft safety and airworthiness, waste management, and other non-aeronautical services.  A sizable chunk of these concessions and contracts were earmarked exclusively for Omani small and medium businesses.
In all, OAMC says it has opened up more than 18,000 sq metres of retail space for investment in upmarket retail and commercial facilities within the new airport.  It includes plans for a first-ever 4-star airside hotel, bids for which are under evaluation. Speaking to the Observer, Dr Al Shueili noted that the award of licenses and contracts is continuing apace. “Several major contracts or the commercial and retail fronts have already been awarded, including licenses for duty free, F&B, and so on.  A lot has been done in the evaluation of submissions in response to various RfPs that have been issued, with many contracts already having been awarded, while others are in the pipeline.” A number of reputable international service providers have gravitated to Oman in response to the RfPs floated by OAMC, according to the official.  “Investment opportunities have opened up in air cargo services, as is evident from the MoU signed recently with DHL to invest in and open up their own hub at Muscat Airport.  In the field of MRO services, there are opportunities for new players as well.”
Plans drawn up by the National Programme for Enhancement of Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh) envisage a significant role for the aviation sector as one of several enablers in fuelling the growth of a logistics-centric economy — a goal enshrined in the Sultanate of Oman Logistics Strategy (SOLS 2040).  Tanfeedh has mooted the concept of a ‘Cargo Village’ that will optimise and integrate the cargo terminals at various airports in order to create the ideal conditions for the Sultanate to increase its air freight for imports, exports, re-exports and transshipments.