Muscat Airport in the capital city of the Sultanate of Oman has in the past not been considered as one of the larger air freight players in the Middle East. Despite having state-of-the-art facilities in the cargo handling area MCT has so far not been served by many freight carriers. Will this change in the future?
OAG has big plans for the future
The Muscat based Oman Aviation Group (OAG) wants to try and establish themselves as a serious air freight handling entity in Muscat in the coming decade and has announced plans to establish a new logistics hub which is intended to cater for the needs of different global logistical companies.
The Omani authorities have bundled the various aviation business entities into one holding company; namely, Oman Aviation Group. The OAG which was formed at the beginning of this year coordinates the joint activities of the Oman Airports, Oman Aviation Services and Oman Air.
Help from outside Oman to speed things up
In order to plan for the future and ensure a proper logistical setup the Omani Minister for Transport and Communications, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, recently gave the go ahead for Oman Aviation Services (OAS) to sign a Memory of Understanding (MoU) with Swiss-based ‘ground.net’ which is a consortium of five European airport service providers which also offer airport handling solutions to others. These are: Munich-based AeroGround, gh ITALIA, Airline Assistance Switzerland (AAS), Greece’s Goldair Handling and the Scandinavian handling company, Aviator. Together, these five offer various passenger, baggage and cargo services to other airports.
OAS will become ‘ground.net’s’ first member outside of Europe and the aim is for OAS to benefit from the expertise of the other members and make use of joint training and other activities. Oman hopes that with this new venture that they can speedily push forward with plans to expand air cargo operations in the country.
Omanis forecast fast growing freight volumes
It is expected that a total of 220,000 tons of air cargo will be handled in Oman by the end of this year, with most of the goods carried in the holds if passenger aircraft due to the lack of freighter services (exceptions are Cargolux and DHL Aviation). The volumes have risen from just 122,000 tons in 2013 and the authorities are aiming at 780,000 tons per annum by 2030 and 1.5 million tons a decade later.
The geographical proximity to the Indian subcontinent, deep-sea ports such as Sohar, midway between Muscat and Dubai and rapidly growing free zones make the Sultanate increasingly attractive for downstream industries and logistics companies, spurring combined sea-air transports.
If Oman can achieve the stated objectives, then they will join the league of big cargo players in the Middle East.
The question remains as to which other player in the area will lose out to Muscat!
John Mc Donagh