MUSCAT - The new Muscat International Airport, scheduled for completion in 2012 and which will boast the latest facilities, will be able to handle 12 million passengers a year, George Billow, CEO of Oman Airport Management Company, or OAMC, said.
He added that once the new airport was opened, the existing one would be converted into a commercial complex and offices for airlines and cargo firms. He also said that work was underway on regional airports in Sohar, Duqm, Ras Al Hadd and Adam, all of which would start functioning in 2012.
Government-owned OAMC, which operates the Muscat and Salalah airports, will also manage the new regional airports. Set up in 2002, the company has so far spent RO30 million for the expansion, development and improvement of the two existing airports.
Projects carried out include expansion of the departure and arrival terminals and car parks at the existing Muscat airport, which recently also took delivery of four fire fighting vehicles, each costing RO350,000.
Billow, who was talking to the official Oman News Agency, or ONA, stressed that Oman attached great importance to developing its civil aviation sector, notably the Muscat and Salalah airports, with a view to attracting more airlines and tourist flights to the country. He added that OAMC, in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry, was striving to promote the sultanate as a tourist hub.
He said despite the global economic conditions and health worries, the Muscat and Salalah airports had seen a growth in air traffic.
Official statistics indicate a six per cent increase in passengers handled by the Muscat International Airport in the first six months of this year compared to the same period of 2008. Arriving travellers totalled 826,349 against 797,544, up four per cent, while the count of departing passengers increased by nine per cent to 826,457.
The rise is attributed to more flights operated by several carriers, including Gulf Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Shaheen International Airlines. The total passenger traffic, including those who transited through the airport, grew by seven per cent to 2.11 million from 1.96 million.
However, cargo traffic recorded a decline of one per cent ˆ from 28,856 tonnes to 28,496 tonnes.
At the Salalah Airport, the number of arriving and departing passengers rose marginally from 190,028 to 194,311.
Billow underlined OAMC’s Omanisation and training effort, pointing out that nationals now accounted for 83 per cent of its 400-strong workforce. When the new airports opened, he said, the number of employees would double.