Oman set to lift the veil
The government of Oman is preparing to open its skies and to invite private investment in a number of key areas of aviation, including air cargo services.
Salim Al Aufi, CEO of Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), told a conference in Muscat that the Ministry of Transport and Communications had gone out to tender on a study to help it develop its ideas.
“We are looking to appoint a consultant to assist us in understanding the local and regional aviation market and services, as well as recommending liberalization options and strategy,” Al Aufy said. “The selected consultant will tell us the potential areas we need to focus on, not only in terms of services, but also the open skies potential, which will be a complete change of policy in Oman.”
The Sultanate’s airspace is still controlled by bilateral agreements in contrast to other countries in the region, such as the UAE and Kuwait. Open skies over Oman would open the aviation market and help the new airports that were now being built to operate profitably, Al Aufy said. He added that officials had visited several locations in the Far East to study the market and identify prospective partners.
Muscat International Airport is currently being redeveloped. A new passenger terminal, able to handle 12 million passengers per year, is set to open in 2014. Cargo capacity will increase to 260,000 tonnes per year. Freight throughput including mail was 113,000 tonnes in 2012, an increase of almost 15 percent on the previous year.
New air cargo terminals are also planned for three much smaller airports in Salalah, Duqm and Sohar.