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Move to invite private investment in Oman’s aviation sector

Key goals: Licensing of amphibious airplane service, Oman Aviation Academy slated during 2022
CAA Eng Naif al Abri
CAA Eng Naif al Abri

MUSCAT: Seeking to capitalise on the recovery under way in the travel and tourism industry, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Sultanate of Oman has unveiled plans to strengthen the country’s aeronautical and aviation infrastructure, as well as open up the sector for private investment through concession agreements.

An overview of the Authority’s broad vision for the sector was presented on Wednesday by Eng Naif bin Ali al Abri, Chairman. It includes a pledge to licence the first amphibious airplane service – a move designed to unlock the tourist potential of scenic but remote coastal locations along the country’s coast. Air passenger connectivity with these locations is a goal as well.

Speaking to media representatives, Eng Al Abri said a broad list of objectives for 2022 includes the formulation of a new National Aviation Safety Strategy, modernisation of the Civil Aviation Strategy 2030, adoption of the General Aviation Policy, licensing of Oman Aviation Academy, and accession to the Beijing Convention and Beijing Protocol 2010.

Additionally, the Authority plans to kickstart the overhaul of Oman’s airspace, update rules and regulations governing airline operations, and to strengthen passenger rights. On the climate change front - a key part of its portfolio, the Authority plans to draft a new law on Climate Change Mitigation, among other related initiatives.

Chief among the Authority’s current priorities, the Chairman noted, is a commitment to support the post-pandemic recovery of the aviation sector, strengthen early warning systems for weather hazards, expand the country’s air navigation infrastructure, and restructure the airspace to facilitate the safe and efficient flow of airplanes through Oman’s airspace.

Importantly, the Authority also plans to open up the sector to local and international investment, said Eng Al Abri. To this end, the Authority plans to provide usufruct rights to investors to use the land and buildings owned by the CAA for aviation-related activities. In this regard, the Authority plans to explore the potential to grant concessions in the management and operation of local airports and aviation-related services to private operators and investors.

These investment opportunities within the airports and other assets of the Authority, said the Chairman. They will help in the development of aeronautical infrastructure within the scope of the Offset (Tawazun) programme as part of concession agreements to operate and manage projects within Muscat and Salalah airports.

The Sultanate of Oman has so far signed a total of 118 air transport agreements with various countries around the world as of 2021-end, in addition to around 62 open skies accords.

Air-transport pacts with Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, Gambia, Tunisia, Belarus, Georgia, Malta and Kenya will be revived after their suspension during the pandemic.

Also during the course of 2022, the Authority intends to complete the construction of the Air Traffic Control tower at Muscat International airport at a cost of RO 1million, the MRO hangar for RO 24 million, and the rehabilitation of the airport's southern runway at a cost of RO 22 million.

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