NEW SECTOR: MoTC, PACA exploring options for resuming flights at new airport
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, MAY 3 –
Efforts are under way to enable the resumption of flight operations to and from Suhar Airport, according to the Minister of Transport and Communications.
Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi made the disclosure in an interview published in Al Markazi, the in-house magazine of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).
“The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) and the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) are working to restart flight operations at Suhar Airport, and a number of airline companies have also shown interest in this regard,” Dr Al Futaisi was quoted as stating in the magazine.
The move comes nearly a year after national carrier Oman Air suspended operations from Suhar Airport, citing poor demand for its passenger services despite concessional fares on the Muscat-Suhar-Muscat sector.
Commercial operations between Muscat and Suhar commenced around National Day in 2014 with Oman Air offering thrice-weekly services to the industrial port city. Initially deploying a 46-seater ATR aircraft on the sector, the service was upgraded to a 71-seater Embraer several months later.
Seeking to generate reasonable return on the significant investment it has made in the development of a modern domestic airport at Suhar, the government is now weighing options to revive services to this rapidly growing industrial port city.
The airport is seen as a key component of Suhar’s advantageous multimodal transport and logistics capability — part of its USP in attracting investment to the city and its hinterland.
According to Dr Al Futaisi, efforts are also ongoing to complete the overall infrastructure of the Suhar Airport project.
Phases 1 and 2, covering the development of a 4 km runway and airside infrastructure, have been completed. This has enabled the provision of early operations at Suhar pending the construction and completion of a passenger terminal in Phase 3 of the project’s development.
“We are also hopeful that MoTC will soon finalise the contract procedures for Phase 3, which include the Departures Terminal, Airport Control Tower, and the navigation and meteorology facilities,” he said.
Additionally, given the airport’s location in an industrial hub, the Ministry and PACA are also weighing opportunities for attracting investment in a number of aeronautical and aviation related activities, including aircraft maintenance, airfreight, and other operational functions, he added.