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Oman Air continues ambitious expansion plan.

Muscat: While major players in the industry are reeling under the impact of global economic recession, Oman Air is flying high while expanding rapidly to come out of its infancy stage and recapture the air traffic at the Muscat International Airport.

Since Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, the air traffic to the Muscat International Airport reduced with the Bahrain-based airline cutting down on its frequency in and out of Oman. However, government-owned Oman Air is continuing its ambitious plan to expand routes as well as its own fleet of aircraft.

The airline showcased its latest acquisition, Airbus A330-300, when media representatives were taken on a two-hour flight over Muscat skies during which Oman Air CEO Peter Hill briefed them on the future plans of the airline.

The new aircraft has a newly introduced first class mini suite. The other two other classes in the aircraft are business and economy. The airline also launched new menus and uniforms.

"By 2014 we expect to take our aircraft strength to 30 with the delivery of six Boeing 787 Dreamliners by then," Hill told journalists during an interaction on board the spacious new aircraft.

He denied that Oman Air was exploring other options because delay in delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. "We have had a meeting with the Boeing representatives yesterday and they have assured us that the six Boeing 787 Dreamliners would be delivered by 2014," he revealed.

The six Boeing 787 Dreamliners were scheduled to be delivered by 2012 but Hill sees delay as a blessing in disguise.

"We had ordered the aircraft for 2012 delivery according to a five-year plan for 2012 but looking at the current situation the delivery in 2014 would be more realistic," he pointed out.

Talking about expansion plans, the Oman Air CEO said that two destinations in Germany, Paris from end of this week and then Sri Lanka and Maldives, the airlines would continue to add new destinations. "We are then looking at south Asia, particularly Pakistan, East Africa and South East Asia," he said.

Having received delivery of a Airbus 330-300 and A330-3200 last week, Oman Air is expecting delivery of five more Airbus A330 aircraft and six Boeing 787 Dreamliners by 2014.

He also denied recent reports that the airlines was planning to take aircraft on lease from India's private airline Jet Airways. "We have two aircraft from them on lease but as soon as we get delivery of our new aircraft we will return them," he said, stressing that Oman Air had no plan to lease aircraft but believes in ownership.

He agreed that H1N1 pandemic viral influenza had has its impact on the airline's business but stressed that the global economic recession had a far greater impact than H1N1.

"There are far stronger concerns regarding H1N1 but it would subsides like all other viral diseases," he said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 7, 2009
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