The take-off (read landing) for the new Muscat International Airport (MIA) was smooth on Tuesday. Oman Air’s WY462 from Najaf, Iraq, was the first commercial flight to land around 5.30 pm, marking the opening of the much-awaited airport.
The flight was received with a traditional water cannon salute. The first passengers received a warm welcome by Oman Airports staff.
“We are so proud to be here and experience the operations of the new Muscat International Airport. I am glad to live the moment with Oman Air’s first commercial landing in the new airport,” said a passenger from Najaf.
The ‘official opening’ of the airport is expected to be at a later date.
Incidentally, Omar Air is also nearing a significant landmark, completing 25 years of its operations on March 25.
The afternoon hours, especially after 3 pm, saw the new airport getting busy.
While some finishing touches are still being given, the airport has written a new chapter in the history of Oman’s infrastructure development.
A number of passengers travelling on the first day were excited.
“We booked the tickets in January itself. It was a coincidence we are flying on a historic day,” said a couple travelling to Salalah, the first flight out of the new airport that left at 7.10 pm.
The CEO of Bank Muscat, who visited the airport, described it as a “wonderful landmark”.
Many, however, were disappointed with the new parking fee. It is expected that more people will use public transport which will be available 24/7.
While the departure and duty free stores began operations, the food courts may take a few more days, said the authorities.
“This airport is surely among the best in the region; it’s a testimony to the fact that Muscat airport is the fastest growing in the region,” said an official from Oman Airports.
Meanwhile, the last flight from the old airport — Oman Air flight WY153 — left for Zurich at 3.30 pm.
Earlier in the morning, top officials from all stakeholders reviewed the preparedness before the opening of the airport.
MIA currently has a capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year. Its capacity increases to 56 million passengers in subsequent phases.
Dr Mohammed bin Nasser al Za’abi, CEO of the Public Authority of Civil Aviation (PACA), said the airport has great potential in terms of area, boarding bridges, lounges and 59 aircraft parking spaces compared with 27 at the old airport, as well as car parking spaces, which can accommodate more than 7,000 cars.
He hoped the new airport would offer a unique travel experience for travellers and visitors to the Sultanate.
He said the total cost of all facilities at the airport has amounted to RO 1.7 billion. “The airport reflects the nature and tourism potential of Oman and the diversity of its topography.”
Dr Al Za’abi said all aspects related to readiness of all air links between aircraft, passenger terminal, ground services and all systems of the airport, free market and the 90-room hotel had been ensured.
He said the terminal building spans over an area of 580,000 square metres and the land area 25.2 million square metres. It consists of three wings, including 118 flight clearance desks for airliners and 82 desks for travel clearance by the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
It has 16 self-service kiosks that will help flyers avoid queues during peak hours.
Ayman bin Ahmed al Hosani, CEO of Oman Airports, said all the government and private institutions operating in the old building have moved to the new building.