• Oman Air plans to increase flight services to India

    In its bid to compete with other Gulf carriers, Oman’s flag carrier Oman Air plans to increase its flight services in India to 175 weekly by 2018 besides seeking an enhanced weekly seat entitlement.

    The Muscat-headquartered carrier currently operates 126 weekly flights across 11 destinations here.

    “We are in the first phase trying to look in increasing our frequencies to the existing destinations where we have today 126 weekly frequencies to 175 per week by 2018,” Oman Air chief executive officer Paul Gregorowitsch told PTI.

    India is an “extremely important” destination for Oman Air and being the fastest growing economy in the world it offers a huge potential, he said.

    Seeking equal footing with other Gulf-based carriers such as Emirates, which enjoy almost 25 per cent more weekly seat entitlement than Oman Air, Gregorowitsch said, “We have currently 21,147 seats per week. We are looking to increase it to total 29,820 flights by 2018 and hope to increase further to 40,000.”

    All this depends about the bilateral negotiations between Oman and India, he added.

    Three major Gulf carriers — Emirates, Etihad (with its Indian Partner Jet Airways) and Qatar Airways enjoy a major share in India’s international traffic.

    Under the air services agreement, Dubai has a maximum seat entitlement of 65,200 seats per week, followed by Abu Dhabi 49,670. Qatar is allowed to operate 24,800 seats per week between India and Doha.

    India had enhanced bilateral traffic rights with Oman last November, increasing the number of weekly flights for the carriers of the two countries by 5,131 seats.

    He said his airline at present did not have any new destination in “mind” but did not rule out the possibility of launching flights from new airports.

    The India government has recently decided to brush up quite some airstrips, he said adding, “we have not excluded that.”

    In India, Oman Air operates from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode, Hyderabad, Goa, among others.

    “Oman Air has seen that a number of measures have been taken to boost civil aviation like Indian airlines have been allowed to fly on international routes as 5/20 has more or less lifted on the other side, he said.

    “We have also seen the possibility of foreign investors to further invest in Indian carriers… We at Oman Air and Oman Government would like to partner further and work together, ” he added. Andrew MacDonald Jersey

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