Storm halts road, air links to Salalah

Salalah has been cut off from the rest of the country with the airport now officially shut down for two days.
All bus services from Muscat have been also suspended till further notice, according to sources.
The Public Authority of Civil Aviation (PACA) said it has extended the closure of Salalah airport and the airspace for another 24 hours. It was closed for 24 hours from 12 am on Friday initially.

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.
Oman Air and SalamAir have suspended their flights to Salalah from May 26 till further notice.
Oman Air also urged its passengers bound for Africa to check their flight status before travelling to
destinations such as Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salam (Tanzania) and Zanzibar as flights will be affected on Saturday and Sunday.
Qatar Airways in a statement said its flights between Doha and Salalah, and Doha and Nairobi airports are subject to delay or cancellation.
According to sources, around 18 flights were affected due to suspension of traffic on Friday from the airport.
“I hope the situation will improve by Sunday and services will be restored,” said Ashraf, a lift and escalator engineer, who is currently on a project in Salalah.
“I return home to Muscat every weekend as my office and family are there. It is better not to risk travelling in these conditions,” he said.
PACA said that the decision to close the airport comes after reviewing the developments of the tropical cyclone Mekunu.
PACA said it will continue to follow up the situation and make all efforts to reopen the airport once all risks to aviation safety are eliminated.
Mwasalat had suspended trips from Muscat to Dhofar and Al Wusta since May 24.
The suspended trips are: Muscat -Salalah, Muscat-Marmul, Muscat-Al Duqm, Al Duqm-Haima, Salalah -Marmul and Salalah-Al Maziona. Mwasalat added that it will review the situation in coordination with PACA.

Lakshmi Kothaneth & Vinod Nair