The last flight out of Muscat International Airport

Passengers, your kind attention, please. This is your captain speaking. ‘‘Welcome on board flight number WY 123 (imaginary) flying from Muscat International Airport to XYZ International Airport. The flight will take approximately three hours to reach the destination. Remember this is the final flight from Muscat International Airport before we welcome planes at the New Muscat International Airport this evening. We wish you all a safe journey, thank you.”
This is probably how the announcement would go as spoken on the inflight PA system of the last plane that departed the Muscat International Airport. For sure, it will be laden with different emotions as the current airport has been connecting the Sultanate to the rest of the world for four decades.
The current airport has been home to many men and women who had frequented its halls and lobbies serving in different capacity. The young children will totally have no clue as to how close they feel about this very gateway that have seen millions of travellers come and go.
As excitement is in the air for the opening of the new airport, so do emotions and nostalgia. For many of them who’ve spent almost half a lifetime working here, things that have transpired would definitely flash in their mind. As the aircrafts are moved to its new home, they would come to remember how this very place has played an important role in their lives
“I came in 1980 looking for a job from Mumbai. The Seeb Airport was then a small airport with a few flights at longer intervals. It has been very homely since my first arrival here that I was not haunted by homesickness till now,” said Mohammed Ashraf Omar TC, a businessman in Muscat.
Muscat International Airport was opened in 1973 and was then called Seeb International Airport. It replaced the smaller airfield located in Bayt al Falaj that was in use before 1973. Oman’s airports are managed by Oman Airports Management Company SAOC (OAMC), which is owned by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman.
OAMC is responsible for the management and operation of Muscat International and Salalah Airports and for the future new airports of Duqm, Suhar and Ras al Hadd.
“We have been eagerly watching the opening of New Airport in Muscat to help us enjoy excellent, ultra-modern facilities. Under the benevolent leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, Oman has achieved immense progress and development and we, the expatriates, are always grateful to His Majesty for allowing us to be a part of great changes. May Almighty Allah reward His Majesty with excellent health and long life,” Noorul Ameen, Former Research Officer of Marine Science & Fisheries Centre, Oman said.
The current airport has witnessed a number memorial events that marked history in the region. It has hosted Royal Air Force BAe Nimrods in the past, including the 1991 Gulf War. In cooperation with the Royal Navy of Oman, it carried out the ‘Magic Roundabout’ exercise series. This base was used by a detachment of Vickers VC10 tankers from No 101 Squadron RAF during the Gulf War training with Royal Air Force SEPECAT Jaguars.
Dr P Mohammed Ali, a well-known name in the engineering and construction sectors and a businessman, who played a pivotal role in building up the basic infrastructure of the country from what was known to be a few kilometres stretch of roads to today’s thousands of kilometres of highways, feels as if it was just yesterday that he saw the growth right in front of his eyes.
“All these felt like they happened just a few days ago. When I arrived in 1972, there was nothing but a few kilometres of roads with rest of the paths just country roads. It is amazing to see the growth of a nation and I am happy to be a part of it. My memories are closely associated with the present International Airport where I landed first seeking to build my life,” Mohammed Ali said.
Other than the passengers who had fond memories of the airport, the hundreds of staff, from senior officers to the cleaning staff, who make the day-to-day operations smoother, feel homesick leaving the airport.
Saif al Kharusi, an officer working for the airport for more than 14 years feels it’s like leaving one’s home and shifting to a new house. He shared that it’s an adjustment but something they would definitely get used to soon.
“I joined Muscat International Airport in 2004 and it has been a wonderful time. We, the staff at the Muscat International Airport, felt like we were a family,” Saif said.
“We depended on each other to carry out the job effectively and that made a strong bonding among us. The technology we used was also simple to handle and I understand change is inevitable. However, we are leaving behind so many memories of the place that has served as home for its many employees,” he added.
Despite the nostalgia, both nationals and expatriates from different walks of life are eagerly waiting the opening of the new airport. They see this as a new landmark and a great addition to the Sultanate’s long history. (with inputs from Zainab al Nasseri)