Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | Jumada al-akhirah 22, 1443 H
clear sky
17°C / 17°C

Soaring to new heights


The early days of the Sultanate of Oman’s aviation were centered around the now MBD area, where tiny turboprops operated from a narrow airstrip. Opened in 1929, the Bait Al Falaj was used both for military and civilian purposes, but the scene shifted to Seeb International Airport in the early years of the Blessed Renaissance in 1973.

According to aviation historians, in those days passenger flights were mainly used to ferry the employees of the Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) from the capital to the old exploration fields. The Bait Al Falaj airport with basic facilities was mainly used by Gulf Air, which along with Oman Air, continued as one of the national airlines until 2007.

The Seeb InternationalAirportwas officially launched on December 23, 1973, and the name was changed to Muscat International Airport on February 1. 2008, to associate it with the host city. Muscat International Airport has a gateway to the Sultanate and has played a keen role in the country’s emergence as a major tourist and investment destination. According to sources in the Civil Aviation Authority, “The Sultanate is strategically located within eight hours of flying time from majority of the world’s population.” BRAND-NEW TERMINAL The brand-new terminal of the Muscat Airport was opened on March 20, 2018, and it has a capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year.

The terminal covers 580,000 sqm and features 118 check-in counters, 10 baggage reclaim belts, 82 immigration counters, 45 gates and is capable of even the A380s. In the pre-pandemic years, Muscat Airport was ranked among the best and even clocking even 15 per cent growth in its category. The contribution of the civil aviation sector to the GDP in 2018 amounted to about $3.9 billion, despite various types of challenges, the flight movements at Muscat International Airport grew by 6.3 per cent per year between 2013 and 2018while passenger traffic increased by 12 per cent per year between 2013 and 2018 reaching at airports in Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Duqm airport. It may be noted that aviation suffered major setbacks in 2020-21 the air travel was restricted to special and essential services to limit the spread of the Covid-19.

The Civil Aviation Authority has signed transport bilateral agreements with more than 100 countries, including the United States, to connect the Sultanate of Oman with different continents with the help of national airlines. In January 2017, CAA issued the first Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for Salam Air to operate as a low-cost airline.

​​​​​​​The national airline, Oman Air, was founded in 1993 and travels directly to various destinations in Asia, Africa, and Europe. The airline has codeshare agreements to offer more options to its regular and loyal passengers. In October 1998, Oman Air was admitted to the international aviation industry trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA). The budget airline, Salam Air, complements the legacy carrier Oman Air and operates several scheduled seasonal flights to destinations in Asia and the region. With the ease of travel restrictions expected in 2022 and liberal visa regime for tourists, airports in the Sultanate of Oman are only expected to fly up into the sky

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