Focus on strategic growth: Oman Air

MUSCAT, JUNE 8 – The Sultanate’s national carrier, Oman Air, said the focus is on fiscal consolidation and strategic growth in the next few years.
The airline officials, however, indicated that it will not fall short if it sees any opportunity anywhere, anytime. Speaking to the Observer during the launch of its new destination in Europe, Laurent Recoura, Vice-President of Oman Air, international sales, said, “We are done for 2019 with the launch of the new services to Alexandria and Athens. Both these destinations were picked based on their seasonal as well the year-round passenger potential.” Elaborating on future plans, he said, “We are going to cap the fleet strength at the current levels (55 aircraft) as the airline has been growing aggressively over the part of couple of years.”
On financial support from the government, Recoura said, “There are chances of putting the financial stability at risk while growing at the pace which we were used to in the recent times (20 per cent annually). As per the plans to be executed for the next few years, the emphasis will be simply to stay sustainable.” He added, “We are not zeroing on particular destinations, but as per our assessments if there is an opportunity, we will certainly seek to grab that opportunity.”
When asked him about the Muscat airport’s dependence on Oman Air to bring more inbound passengers to the city, he said, “You will certainly see a moderate growth happening organically. While staying flat with the number of aircraft, but will still add seats to the existing capacity, perhaps with changes in the type of aircraft.” The airline will continue with its efforts to bring more passengers and revenue to the Muscat airport.
He added, “Oman Airports is doing their business and they are marketing the airport with new airlines as part of a global strategy of the Oman Aviation Group.” Recoura admitted that routes to London and India are more profitable compared to other sectors.
“We have to address the cost saving culture in the company. In airline business we can have fully-loaded flight and still not make money. The load factor for a legacy carrier is different compared to that of the budget airlines,” he said.
With 11 destinations, “India is a big market for us and we are certainly keen to fill the vacuum created by the closure of Jet Airways early this year,” he said.
On the impact of the grounding of the 737 Max, Recoura said that some frequencies have been adjusted just to reduce the impact. “We do not want to shut down any stations.” On joining alliances, he said the airline will focus on having strategic partnerships because it can be executed quickly, rather joining any alliances. The airline has also ruled out launching direct flights to the United States. “We don’t see that happening. We are looking at code share or interline partnerships, including an agreement with Air Canada,” he added.