Oman plans major perishables hub to drive air cargo growth

Oman Aviation Group (OAG) has plans to invest in the development of a sizable hub for the handling of perishable cargo at Muscat International Airport The proposed facility is an integral part of the Omani government’s National Cargo Strategy to, among other goals, boost air cargo throughput volumes to 780,000 tonnes per annum by 2030, rising to 1.5 million tonnes per annum by 2040.
Plans for the perishables centre are being spearheaded by Transom SATS Cargo, the Omani-Singaporean joint venture operating under the auspices of Oman Aviation Group. Transom SATS Cargo is one of five companies that together constitute the Transom Group, the other four being Transom Handling, Transom Catering, Transom Hospitality, and Muscat Duty Free. Transom Group, along with Oman Airports and Oman Air, together make up Oman Aviation Group – part of Oman Investment Authority (OIA).
According to a top official of Transom SATS Cargo, the proposed perishables centre is among a broad list of initiatives being pursuing by the cargo handling subsidiary, and the wider Oman Aviation Group, to support the growth of a robust air logistics industry in the Sultanate.
S T Tan, CEO, said a 150,000 tonnes per annum capacity complex is envisioned at Terminal 1 of Muscat International Airport. The dedicated facility is proposed to be established on a 7,000 sq metre built-up area at an existing part of the airport’s air-cargo complex.
Participating in an online forum organised recently by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, Tan said the achievement of long-term targets set under the National Air Cargo Strategy is predicated on the growth of industries the output of which can be shipped by air to international markets.
Opportunities falling in the category of perishables include Omani beans, which enjoy great demand in Japanese markets, as well as other fruits and vegetables, value-added date products, and halal foods. Chilled and processed fish sourced from conventional fisheries or aquaculture can also help generate air cargo volumes, he said.
The official also underlined the potential for the airfreighting of spare parts, among other hardware, for distribution across free zones operating at Suhar, Duqm and Salalah.
Equally prospective are sea-to-air logistics activities that leverage enhanced connectivity between Oman’s maritime gateways and airports, coupled with a streamlined customs clearance system, to move value-added products to overseas markets by air.
Transom SATS Cargo, owned 33 per cent by Singapore-based SATS – a leading global provider of airline catering and gateway services, offers a full range of services expected of an international air cargo operator, said the official. It includes the handling of, among other goods, postal articles, e-commerce goods, livestock, perishables, pharmaceuticals, dangerous goods, and valuable articles.
In other initiatives being pursued by the JV, Tan said the company is working with SATS Singapore to develop an “e-fulfilment corridor” that links Muscat with key cities like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
To this end, it is also collaborating with Asyad Express — a brand of Oman Post — to support door-to-door, last-mile delivery, he noted.