New barrier means park and pay for Muscat airport pick-ups
August 19, 2017 | 9:40 PM
by Staff Reporter
Now, drivers can’t go round the airport to collect people and parking in front of the departure lounge will be penalised

Muscat: A new barrier at the entrance to Muscat International Airport will put an end to drivers circling round as they wait to collect people, in a bid to “organise the traffic,” according to the management.

The new “electronic gate” means drivers will be able to drive to the departures and arrivals halls area just once during certain times of the day.

Any car parked outside the departure lounge for more than three minutes is liable to be towed away, according to Oman Airports Management Company, so drivers who go to the airport circle around as they wait for pick-ups, rather than park and pay.

The new barrier will prevent that. Now, between set hours, drivers will be unable to circle and will either have to park and pay - or drive out of the airport.

Next to the new “electronic gate”, a sign reads: “The road will be closed from 3am-5am, 10am to 12, 2pm to 4pm, and 7pm to 1am.”

The notice from Oman Airports Management Company, posted via their Twitter account, reads: “As Oman Airports spares no effort in ensuring a smooth transportation to the Departures Building at the current Muscat International Airport Building, a new electronic gate has been added to the route leading to the Departures building in order to organise the traffic. We appreciate your cooperation in supporting this change.”

The company’s website adds: “Passengers can be dropped off at the curbside of the departures terminal. “For security reasons, vehicles dropping off passengers are only permitted to stay for up to three minutes and must not be left unattended for any reason. Vehicles remaining in the drop off area for longer than three minutes will be asked to move and may be towed away. All unattended vehicles will be towed away.”

OAMC also asked those who wish to pick people up at the airport to “check the flight status of incoming flight using our [flight information] before leaving for the airport,” in order to avoid delays.

OAMC did not respond to requests for comment on the new barrier. The cheapest parking period at Muscat Airport is in the short term car park, where a short stay of less than an hour will cost OMR1. That rises to long stay parking – where a 10-day park can cost the traveller up to OMR90.

One driver said: “If it helps to ease congestion outside the airport halls then it’s good. It’s always jam-packed and horns blaring there. If it means they only have one drive round then they have to park up and pay or leave the airport then that means less traffic just circling and waiting, so less chance of an accident and a more organised traffic management system.”

Maryam Balushi noticed the new electronic gate as she drove to the airport on Friday.

“I first noticed the traffic accumulating off the highway exit into the airport. There were more cars than I had ever seen, all waiting to pull up to the airport building. I didn’t think much of it, but later noticed the electronic gate which would prevent me from being able to circle around the parking lot, which I usually do.

“I luckily saw it in time and was able to pull into the parking lot. it was my first time paying to park for a pick-up. I think its a smart revenue move,” she said.

Mwasalat will, starting October, begin operating a taxi service from Muscat international airport, which they say will bring taxi fares at Muscat Airport down, in line with other GCC companies.

Sohar airport is receiving an increasing amount of flights. Last week, Qatar airways began operating three weekly flights, increasing Sohar Airport’s total to nine.

Muscat International Airport’s new passenger terminal is 97 per cent complete, officials announced.

The airport will serve 20 million travellers a year when it opens, which will rise to 48 million passengers in the future.

The current airport has 365 parking spots, according to OAMC.

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