Oman Air’s contribution to the national economy was estimated at about RO 600 million in 2016, as the national carrier continued to leverage its expanding network to drive tourist traffic to the Sultanate as well as facilitate business travel, the Chairman of the airline’s Board of Directors said. Darwish bin Ismaeel al Balushi, who is also Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, noted that the establishment of a modern airport in Muscat is set to position the Sultanate for stronger growth in the air travel and aviation business.
“As a national carrier, one of our mandates is to contribute to the economic growth of the Sultanate by creating ‘air bridges’ with brotherly and friendly countries to bring tourists from abroad, which is supporting tourism, and creating business opportunities between national businessmen in Oman and abroad,” al Balushi said.
“The infrastructure to do this is now practically fully available; Muscat’s new airport is nearing completion after the opening of the new passenger terminal in Muscat, meaning that the home base for Oman Air will be state of the art,” he added in an overview of Oman Air’s annual financial report for the year ended December 31, 2016.
Reviewing the annual report on behalf of the Board of Directors of Oman Air during the EGM and 35th Ordinary General Meeting in Muscat, Al Balushi highlighted some of the achievements of 2016, which are as follows: Fleet expanded to 47 aircraft; Increase in the seat factor up to 20 per cent; Increase in the number of passengers to 7.7 million, or 21 per cent; Launch of Oman Air Flight Training Centre (OAFTC); Freight operations increased to 159,618 tonnes; and One million extra meals produced by Oman Air Catering Services.
“2016 was a year of both change and consolidation for Oman Air,” the Chairman said. “Oman Air has continued its ambitious programme of expansion in 2016 with the introduction of four brand new Boeing 737-800s joining the Oman Air fleet.” He added that the previous A330 interiors attracted enormous international acclaim when they were first unveiled in 2009 and the new A330 interiors surpass those high standards and customers are already delighted with the results. With the addition of the new Boeing 737 — 800, Oman Air’s fleet stands at 47.
Three more Boeing 737 — 800s are scheduled to join the fleet and this year, Oman Air will be unveiling new B787-9 Dreamliners and revamping the existing Airbus fleet.
Oman Air’s capacity has increased significantly over the last year recording an increase in flight movements by more than 4000 flights to nearly 51,952 flights, an increase of 9 per cent compared with 2015. The number of round trips Oman Air offered in 2016 rose to 30,978 trips from the previous year’s 28,270 trips.
As a result of the increased capacity, Oman Air experienced a huge 21 per cent increase in passenger numbers with over 7.7 million passengers travelling with the airline in 2016, compared to 6.4 million passengers in 2015. While the fluctuating oil prices continue to affect the global economic outlook in general negatively, Oman Air’s revenues have increased during 2016 to RO 472 million, an increase of 1 per cent on 2015,” al Balushi said.
He also said that among the developments in 2016 are: the introduction of a double daily service to London Heathrow; from five times a week, to daily flights to Paris and increased frequencies on other European routes. The other recent additions to our network include, Manila, Jakarta, Singapore, Goa, Dhaka and Mashhad. The introduction of Guangzhou, China and Najaf, Iraq were the other major milestones of 2016. We also announced the start of our second destination in the UK with the new Muscat to Manchester daily service in May 2017.
“Oman Air has worked hard to increase the employment of Omani nationals and now over two thirds of the workforce originates from Oman.
2016 also saw a move to put Oman Air at the forefront of pilot and cabin crew training with the launch of the Oman Air Flight Training Centre (OAFTC) in October. It is a state-of-the-art facility that is the first of its kind in the Sultanate of Oman,” the Chairman said.
Oman Air, he noted, continues to excel in other areas of the business. The amount of cargo that Oman Air handled in 2016 increased from 138,972 tonnes to approaching 159,618 tonnes. Catering Services Division has won several new contracts including a three and a half year contract with British Airways.
In the past year Oman Air Catering Services produced an extra one million meals than were originally budgeted for, increasing productivity without compromising on quality.