Free Zone proposed at Muscat International Airport

Muscat, Nov 11 Oman Aviation Group — the government’s aviation sector investment flagship — plans to establish a first-of-its-kind free zone for air-cargo and logistics at Muscat International Airport. The ambitious initiative, which is envisaged on vacant land adjoining the newly launched Air Cargo Terminal and elsewhere around the airport complex, is proposed to include temperature-controlled warehouses catering to the storage, processing, value-addition and distribution of a wide array of products suitable for air logistics. The objective, according to a high-level official associated with this endeavour, is to support the development of Muscat International Airport as a logistics gateway catering to the wider GCC region, Middle East and Africa.
“Oman Aviation Group is looking to develop Muscat into an air logistics hub,” said Tan Siang Tang (pictured), Chief Executive Officer – Oman Air SATS Cargo LLC, which operates the Cargo Services Terminal at Muscat International Airport. “As the enabler of investment and development in the aviation sector, we see the need for support infrastructure that will attract more players to this business and stimulate the growth of air cargo volumes.”
Envisioned are investments in all kinds of warehouses custom-designed to handle, among other types of merchandise, perishables such as fruits and vegetables, flowers and fresh fish, according to the CEO. Suitably integrated with temperature-controlled warehouses and cold-rooms, these facilities can also house fish processing and value-adding plants that can leverage their proximity to the airport to target international markets, he said.
Also promising, said Tan Siang Tang, is the potential for specialised warehouses suited for the handling and storage of pharmaceuticals targeted for distribution across the wider region and internationally as well. Muscat’s success in obtaining the much-coveted certification for Good Distribution Practices (GDP) — attesting compliance with prescribed safety and quality standards for the pharmaceutical industry — augurs well for the growth of the sector, he said.
The proposed Airport Free Zone will also provide strong impetus to the growth of e-commerce — an industry that has been expanding at a phenomenal rate in the region. Other types of goods and services identified as prospective by Oman Aviation Group include aircraft spare parts, consumer products and se-air logistics, he added.
Oman Aviation Group’s National Air Cargo Strategy envisions an increase in cargo tonnage to 780,000 tonnes by 2030, surging eventually to 1.5 million tonnes by 2040.

Conrad Prabhu