The government will announce the launch date of new Muscat International Airport in the next “few days”, said a government official. Dr Mohammed bin Nasser al Zaabi, CEO of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), told the Observer on Sunday: “We will fully shift all commercial operations from the existing airport to the new one. It will be a big-bang opening and that is why we are taking time with trials because we want to ensure everything is fine — check-in systems, baggage handling, etc.”
“There will be no partial, but complete opening of the airport,” he said. The total cost of the airport has reached RO 1.7 billion, Al Zaabi said. According to him, 75 per cent of the Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) trials has been completed. “The remaining 11 trials will be completed in the next five to six weeks.” Trials help integrate all airport stakeholders: handling agents, airlines, government authorities and agencies, and service providers and vendors in the preparation and airport readiness process. Once fully operational, the new airport will have the capacity to handle 20 million passengers annually.
Meanwhile, a demonstration tour of Airbus A350-1000 began at the new passenger terminal of the new airport on Sunday.
This is the first time that this kind of aircraft is landing in the Sultanate. “Such tours are very important as they showcase the readiness of Muscat International Airport in dealing with the new type of Airbus,” said Al Zaabi, who attended the tour.
He said the demonstration tour affirms the readiness of the new airport, its facilities and the work teams in dealing with such aircraft.
As for the new civil aviation projects, he said work is under way on the third package of the new passenger terminal and air traffic control (ATC) tower at Duqm Airport as well as other facilities. “The airport will start operations this year.”
This flight complements the experiments at the new passenger terminal, which has so far witnessed 32 experiments to ensure readiness of the airport’s facilities and systems to handle different types of aircraft.
These experiments include testing of the passenger boarding tubes and other systems under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the readiness teams.
The demonstration experiments are conducted in coordination between Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), national carrier Oman Air and the Airbus Group.
As part of its Middle-East tour, the Airbus A350-1000 arrived at the Muscat International Airport on Saturday from Doha. A total of 300 executives in aviation and related sectors took part in the new aircraft demonstration by the Airbus Group.
The aircraft took off from the new passenger terminal and made a flying display in the Sultanate’s skies for one hour with a number of invitees on board of the aircraft to showcase its features.
It will later head to Hong Kong on its third leg demonstration tour, which includes a number of cities around the world.