Exclusive - Oman Air Intends to Unleash own Cargo Unit

According to Mahfood Ali Al Harthy, Oman Air’s Chief Officer Sales the airlines is paving the way for the air freight department to become an independent legal entity, responsible itself for its finances and the entire business activities. It might still take some time until the project is accomplished but the course for corporatizing the cargo department has been clearly set, confirms the executive.

Mahfood Ali Al Harthy (left) and Mohamed Sherief Padiyath
Mahfood Ali Al Harthy (left) and Mohamed Sherief Padiyath

The expectation is high. Once being corporatized, “we feel that we can add even more value to our company,” explains Mahfood. To achieve this aim, the carrier’s management is currently re-engineering all processes to bring air freight even more up front in order to play a similar important role than that of the passenger sector. Mahfood states unequivocally: “Both segments are of equal importance for Oman Air.”
This hasn’t been the case in the past since all air freight activities, first started in 2009, remained heavily dependent on passenger oriented decisions. In the years after, nothing much changed with cargo activities continuing being doomed to a shadowy existence.

Paul pushes cargo up front
Things, however, immediately took a turn for the better after CEO Paul Gregorowitsch, a former Air Berlin and Martinair manager took office in summer of 2014. Under his leadership air freight gained an entirely new significance proven by the executive board’s decision to corporatize the business unit.
The first visible result was presented to the surprised public only weeks ago, with Oman Air (Code: WY) and Cargolux signing a pact for collaborating closely in cargo by mutually utilizing the capacity of each carrier’s passenger and freighter fleets on flights to and from Muscat, WY’s home base (see report in CargoForwarder Global published 16 April). This project is now under way and will be intensified in the months to come, assure both carrier’s CEOs, Paul Gregorowitsch and Dirk Reich. 

Charter options are a topic
The deal they just inked goes well beyond shared capacity on line-haul flights but also includes feasible charter options on trade lanes that demand additional capacity. This applies specifically for transport from China to Africa via Muscat, Oman’s capital, where currently a new airport is being built. “Due to our agreement with Cargolux we are given the opportunity to manage the flow of Asia produced goods into Africa according to demand,” illustrates Mohamed Sherief Padiyath, Oman Air’s cargo manager. “Although we basically don’t focus on mass transport we intend to capture an increasing volume flown on this emerging trade lane, by capitalizing on Oman’s privileged geographical position at the crossroads of this intercontinental traffic lane,” states Sherief.

Oman Air is outpacing itself
Mahmood points out that Asia to Africa flows are currently still kind of a niche business, but a perspective market offering steadily accelerating tonnage moved on that trade lane by air. 
In regards to China he announces that Oman Air originally intended to first fly there in 2018, linking Muscat with Shanghai. This plan, however, has meanwhile become obsolete because the Omani carrier will commence servicing this route in October of this year already. Comments Mahfood Ali Al Harthy: “Our basic philosophy was and still is to grow slowly and steadily, but in reality we are outpacing our rather conservative plans time and again.”
If this will apply to the projected corporatization of Oman Air’s cargo unit remains to be seen.
So please stay tuned.

Heiner Siegmund   

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