The Arabian Gulf carriers have long since proven to the market that they are here to stay and are a commercial force to be reckoned with.
Most people, when thinking of airlines operating out of the Gulf, think of Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways.
Oman’s national carrier, Oman Air, which was founded in 1993 and employs over 4,000 staff, has been making a name for itself also during the past couple of years.
The carrier which was previously seen purely as a local regional carrier operating out of Muscat has gradually and successfully made a name for itself in the international market.
Modern fleet will be upgrade with wet-lease aircraft
Oman Air has now signed a three-year wet-lease agreement with Nairobi-based Kenya Airways to take over two of KQ’s nine Boeing 787-8 passenger aircraft.
Kenya Airways has decided to cut back on capacity on its international operations and operate only with seven long-haul B787-8 series aircraft.
Oman Air needs additional passenger and freight capacity as they have been awarded extra slots at London Heathrow airport which will see the Muscat-based carrier upping its frequency to LHR from one to two flights daily.
The carrier which has two Boeing 787-8 aircraft of its own in the fleet also operates six Airbus A330-300 and four A330-200 aircraft on flights to other European and Far East destinations.
Regional services are covered with a modern fleet of more than twenty Boeing 737- 700/800/900 planes as well as Embraer 175 and ATR-42-500.
Cargo capacity gets a welcome boost
The three-year deal for the Kenya Airways B787 Dreamliners will also give Oman Air’s cargo department added cargo capacity on long haul routes.
The airline has long since committed itself to expanding the cargo product and aims to establish Muscat as what they see as an important cargo hub in the region.
The cargo joint venture with Luxembourg’s Cargolux for services into and out of India was recently expanded by both carriers. The venture which first started in 2015 with flights originating in Luxembourg and routing through Muscat to Chennai and back, was expanded early this year to an additional two weekly B747-8F flights to Mumbai. This gives Oman Air additional cargo uplift on board of Cargolux Boeing 747F aircraft through Muscat on the joint venture cargo operation.
The Omani cargo department was formed in 2009 and since then has been working on various new cargo booking, tracking and tracing systems in order to place themselves firmly into the air freight scene.
The carrier also recently announced that they will seriously consider purchasing or leasing up to 13 Airbus A350 long haul jets by 2020. These would then replace the present Airbus A330 fleet.
John Mc Donagh
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