The aviation sector in Oman is expected to benefit from restrictions on flights going to Qatar, according to the industry sources. The country’s aviation sector has been growing at a healthy rate and the figures for the first four months of this year have been impressive, despite the fact that the new airport is expected to start operations only by the year-end.
According to statistics provided by the Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC), passenger traffic at Muscat airport grew 16.7 per cent to over 4.5 million in the first four months of this year as against 3.8 million in the same period last year.
According to Airports International Council, Muscat is leading over its rivals with a growth rate which is expected to be around 40 per cent by 2020.
Aircraft movement increased 13.3 per cent to 37,368 in the first four months compared with 32,979 in the same period last year.
Cargo mail and operations also increased 28.2 per cent in the first four months of this year.
The growth at Salalah airport has been exceptional with passenger traffic growing 28 per cent, aircraft movements 38.1 per cent and cargo movements 43 per cent.
With restrictions on flights to Qatar, Oman has a clear advantage because of its strategic location to emerge as an active hub in the region, not to forget it has one of the busiest airspaces in the world.
Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) too has said efforts are being made to ensure air traffic safety in the Omani airspace, which handles thousands of aircraft movements daily.
A travel operator hoped the new airport was ready by now. “Oman still has a good opportunity to capitalise on the current situation. “We can emerge as a major transit hub for passengers because of our strategic location,” he said.
“It is too early to speak about the increase in bookings, but we have emerged as a strong option for passengers flying in and out of Doha,” he said.
Apart from chartering aircraft to Qatar Airways to helping ferry passengers from Saudi Arabia, the airline has added capacity on the Doha sector to meet the demand.
Oman Air is upgrading its flights to Doha to bigger aircraft with more capacity.
“It is an opportunity for us and we have stepped up our operations to meet the demand on the affected sectors,” said Usama al Haremi, senior manager of corporate communications and media.
The national budget airline, SalamAir, said it has carried over 50,000 passengers since the launch of services in January this year.