Salalah: Since Thursday midnight the Salalah International Airport had been closed but with today’s discussions at Public Authority for Civil Aviation’s (PACA) National Early Warning Centre Oman Aviation Group is extending the closure of the Salalah airport for another 24 hours. So in total the closure will be for 48 hours effective from Thursday midnight.
According to the CEO of Oman Aviation Group, Mustafa al Hinai, the team will now wait for the next instruction from PACA. “We will be ready to reopen but at the same time we will make sure of the total readiness for the country first because there would be lot of movement from Muscat to Salalah or Salalah to Muscat. We will increase the fleet size that will move to Salalah. We will also ensure they are wide aircrafts,” Al Hinai said, speaking to Observer.
“We are still not sure about the reopening date because first we would have to wait until the situation is normal to analyse whether we should extend the closure of the airport,” added the CEO of the Oman Aviation Group.
Oman Aviation Group with its three companies with Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services has set in place emergency and recovery plan.
“We have made sure that all our assets and people are available and by Friday we have full fledge team mobilized to Salalah Airport to support our team there. We had made an assurance that our operations in respect to airline movement in a very safe manner. We could divert few routes of Oman Air especially to Africa and Saudi Arabia through other routes that were guided by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation,” said Al Hinai.
The Friday’s flight to Nairobi was diverted through another route and the Chief Executive Officer said for such a situation there should be a network planning measures especially on the types of aircrafts because some of the aircrafts cannot cross longer routes. The team was ready.
“So we have ensured change in the aircraft models so they can carry more fuel and can handle longer range. All these preplanning work is in place. We have also diverted the flight to Saudi Arabia through another route that passes by over passing Al Dahira region as per the Public Authority of Civil Aviation’s instruction.
At the same Oman Airports has ensured there is a team who stays 24/7 at our Muscat Control Centre in Muscat at the same time we have a remote room which is now in Salalah Airport.
“This way we have remote connectivity assuring that our assets, radar system as well as other systems are working well to provide stability to the situation. At the same time our Oman Aviation services team especially the ground handling team has made sure that all the equipment has been moved from the ground to a very safe area to prevent any damage in the ground. Most of these operations had been preplanned earlier,” added Al Hinai.
We are monitoring the situation closely. And we are at the disposal of the Public Authority of Civil Aviation instructions.
The Oman Aviation Group has in place the plan for reopening once the situation is stable. While the team already has recovery plan most of the team will be on the ground to ensure the airport is ready to receive any airline for safe landing in Salalah.
The Public Authority of Civil Aviation (PACA) has decided to extend the closure of Salalah airport for air traffic for another 24 hours. It was closed for traffic for 24 hours from 12 am on Friday initially.
Around 18 flights were to be affected by the suspension of traffic on Friday from Salalah airport.
The Public Authority of Civil Aviation (PACA) said in a statement that the decision to close the airport comes after reviewing the developments of the tropical cyclone Mekunu, which is currently advancing in the Arabian Sea south East of Dhofar Governorate.
PACA said it deals with international traffic in its airspace, which has been now affected by the cyclone’s movement.
PACA said it was following up the cyclone and is working hard on the reopening of Salalah airport in front of the movement of air traffic over the airspace and into the city once the risks to aviation safety are eliminated.
Oman Air has suspended all its flights to Salalah for May 25 and SalamAir said its flights on Friday and Saturday morning to Salalah have been cancelled due to weather conditions and the closure of the airport.
Earlier, Oman Air had urged its passengers to check their flight status before travelling to Salalah, Nairobi, Dar es Salam and Zanzibar as flights will be affected on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Mwasalat too suspended trips from Muscat to Dhofar and Al Wusta, and vice versa, as of May 24, 2018.
The suspended trips are (Muscat – Salalah), (Muscat – Marmul), (Muscat – Al Duqm), (Al Duqm – Haima), (Salalah – Marmul) and (Salalah – Al Maziona) ‘Mwasalat’ wishes to reiterate that it is keeping an eye on updates from PACA.
The suspension of trips is a reflection of Mwasalat’s concern to ensure passengers safety as the two governorates will be affected by extraordinary weather conditions during the next few days, according to the latest predictions issued by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA).