New Muscat Airport marks one year of operations

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The new passenger terminal building at Muscat International Airport, which was opened to public a year ago, is already being rated among the best in Asia. To the credit of all stakeholders, the airport was opened at one go and all operations were nearly seamless. The first commercial flight to land at the new airport was Oman Air’s WY462 from Najaf, Iraq, around 5.30 pm, and a few passengers were lucky to have booked their tickets for the same day. Couple of hours later, the first flight out of the new airport left for Salalah at 7.10 pm.

According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the airport handled a total of 15,413,15 passengers in 2018, while it has the capacity to handle around 20 million passengers a year.According to Mustafa al Hinai, CEO, Oman Aviation Group: “Our plans for 2019 are to commercially explore the airport as per its strategic advantages. Our main target is to attract more airlines to the country, and develop the land around that will help bring people to the airport.” Work on the rehabilitation of the southern runway of Muscat airport will begin this year, along with the inauguration of a new aircraft maintenance building, an integrated distribution centre for corrosive materials at the airport.

At the glittering event to mark the official inauguration in November 2018, Hinai had said that Oman Aviation Group is working towards a target of 40 million passengers by 2030 and 56 million by 2040. “The phase II of the project is under planning and will be announced at the right time,” he said.  Recently, Muscat airport was recognised as the ‘Most Improved Airport — Middle East’ by Airports Council International (ACI) World in its Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, which recognise airports around the world that deliver the best customer experience in the opinion of their passengers. “This airport will add a lot to the economy, and the aim is to rank among the top 20 airports in the world.

The commercial area for non-aeronautical business also increased by 10 times from 3,000 sqm at the current airport to 30,000 square meters,” according to a senior official at Oman Airports. The new cargo building has spread over 32,000 sqm with a capacity to handle 350,000 tonnes of cargo per year, which could be extended to 500,000 tonnes. “This airport is certainly on par with the best in the world in all categories, including top class approach roads leading to the terminals, public transport, parking and e-visa facilities,” said Mohammed Latif, a PR executive based in the UAE, who frequently shuttles between the two countries.

“This is certainly only a beginning, and we hope the airport will get bigger in the coming years,” said Abdullah al Balushi, a senior executive in the oil and gas sector. The Public the authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) has also started addressing the problem of noise caused by aircraft movement without affecting the safety and efficiency of flights. The results of the World Airport Survey, in which Muscat is participating, will take place in London on March 27. Apart from destinations in the Indian subcontinent and the GCC, the airport offers direct flights to UK, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Paris, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, Russia, Philippines and Kenya, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

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