The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said its revenues for the year 2020 declined by 65 per cent due to the exceptional circumstances and disruptions of air traffic for an extended period worldwide.
The revenues from air navigation fees decreased by 54 per cent and airport fees by 75 per cent as the passenger traffic decreased.
Revenues from franchise fees dropped by 86 per cent. The air traffic at Muscat International Airport declined 80.1 per cent and passenger traffic by 81.1 per cent at the end of February this year, compared with the same period in 2020.
The decline in passenger traffic at Salalah airport was 90.9 per cent even though domestic air travel has been largely uninterrupted since the last quarter of 2020.
According to IATA, passenger traffic remained weak in February since new Covid-19 cases elevated globally and governments maintained travel restrictions. Industrywide revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs) were 74.7 per cent below pre-crisis levels in February 2019, compared to January’s level, which was 72.2 per cent down.
A top IATA official said that the PCR tests are expensive and said it is time to decide whether they are necessary.
Any demand for PCR tests that can cost more than the short flights themselves threatens the recovery. “We are seeing evidence of profiteering by people who have jumped on the testing bandwagon,” Willie Walsh, the IATA director-general, said. “The cost of testing should be significantly lower than it is. I think we’ve got to challenge whether PCR testing is necessary,” he said at a webinar of the World Aviation Festival attended by the Observer.
It may be noted that PCR costs around RO 25 and above in Oman and some private clinics charge up to RO 40, depending on the urgency to get results. Currently, all passengers to Oman aged 15 years and below are required to undergo PCR tests.
As PCR tests will make travel too expensive for many, airlines call for allowing travellers to use antigen tests, which are much cheaper and give results more quickly.
“We can’t have a situation where only the wealthy are able to travel. That would be a shame and a disgrace, and everyone in the industry should be pushing back,” Walsh said.
He said that lateral flow and rapid antigen tests are just as effective in the context, where there are other measures in place to help manage risk.
A top IATA official said the PCR tests are expensive and it is time to decide whether they are necessary