MUSCAT, SEPT 15 - Having snagged one of the world’s largest logistics players as an investor in its growing airfreight business, Oman Aviation Group (OAG) – the Sultanate’s aviation and air-logistics flagship – says it has lined up new initiatives to support the development of its signature Muscat Airport City project. Spread over a total area of over 350 hectares, Muscat Airport City integrates five different gates or clusters each dedicated to a specific aspect of OAG’s core business objectives behind the development of an Airport City around Muscat International Airport. The largest of these is the Free Zone Gate, covering an area of 152 hectares, followed by the Business Gate (114 hectares), Aviation Gate (53 hectares), Logistics Gate (24 hectares), and Hospitality Gate (12 hectares).
“We have initiatives under Muscat Airport City in the pipeline, and we expect to make an announcement before the end of this year,” said Mustafa al Hinai, Group CEO – Oman Aviation Group. “At the moment, we have a prioritisation roadmap (for the development of the Airport City) and our first priorities are the Logistics and Aviation Gates. With regard to the Free Zone and other gates, we are in the process of getting the final approvals from the authorities concerned to obtain the right license for them, and we expect to make announcement at the appropriate time.”
Last week, OAG announced a strategic tie-up with global logistics giant DHL to support air-logistics at Muscat International Airport. As part of the arrangement, DHL has committed to setting up a 50,000 sq metre capacity storage facility within the Logistics Gate – an investment that promises to position Oman as a regional hub for its airfreight business in the future.
Besides Muscat, Airport Cities are also planned in the proximity of Salalah International Airport and Sohar International Airport as part of a network of ‘Oman Airport Cities’. These developments will “offer world-class commercial, retail, hospitality, MICE, leisure and logistics hubs and clusters,” says wholly government-owned Oman Aviation Group.
Airport Cities envisioned at Muscat and Salalah are being positioned as destinations for investment opportunities across a variety of clusters. For example, light manufacturing and assembly operations dependent on air transport will be concentrated in an area reserved for Light Industries. Also promising are opportunities for processing of high value fish, regional distribution hubs for pharmaceutical manufacturers, distribution hubs for aircraft manufacturers, and fulfilment centres for ecommerce players eager to set up their regional operations at these airports.
Importantly, Free Zones will be an integral part of the Airport Cities, according to Oman Aviation Group. These will house investments related to free zone storage, light industrial activities, industrial value adding activities oriented towards re-export), and distribution services. The overall goal is to support Oman’s ambition to evolve into a major hub for air cargo and logistics in the region.
Oman Aviation Group oversees the operations of national carrier Oman Air, Oman Airports, Transom (encompassing Ground Handling, Catering, Hospitality, Cargo and Muscat Duty Free services), Oman Airport Cities. It also serves as the National Tourism Operator.