Oman provides eight free flights for Gulf Cup fans
December 31, 2017 | 10:46 PM
by Times News Service
Oman’s sports ministry has called in the Royal Air Force to ensure everyone who wants to attend the semi-final of the Gulf Cup of Nations gets to watch the match. - File photo

Muscat: Oman’s sports ministry has called in the Royal Air Force to ensure everyone who wants to attend the semi-final of the Gulf Cup of Nations gets to watch the match.

Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs has teamed up with the Majlis Al Shura and Oman’s air force to provide eight free flights for fans travelling to Kuwait to cheer on their national football team in the semi-finals of the 23rd Arab Gulf Cup of Nations.

This is in addition to the five low-cost flights to be operated by Oman Air and SalamAir, Oman News Agency said.

“These initiatives of the Royal Air Force of Oman, the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the Shura Council have been fully paid for,” said Dr Ahmed bin Haboush Al Farsi of the board of directors of the Oman Football Assocation. “The other five provided by Oman Air and Salam Air are cost-effective and have only taken a symbolic fee from each supporter.

“A committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Saeed bin Othman Al Balushi, CEO of the Oman FA, to facilitate travel to Kuwait, as heavy attendance is expected at the semi-finals of the 23rd Gulf Cup,” he stated.

Oman will play Bahrain in the semi-finals of the tournament on January 2 at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City, and the game will be broadcast on both BEIN Sports and Abu Dhabi Sports, as well as the Sultanate’s national channel, Oman TV. If you have not managed to book a place on one of these flights, and are still planning to watch Oman’s football team live in Kuwait on Tuesday, then you have probably missed the last plane to Kuwait City, according to travel agents working in Sultanate. You might have already missed out on flying to Kuwait as well, as most flights to Kuwait City are nearly full. “We do not have any tickets to Kuwait on January 2,” said Rajan Jayaraman, district sales manager, Oman, Kuwait Airways.

Oman’s first budget airline — SalamAir — also announced on Sunday that the special flight to Kuwait was full on Tuesday. “We are sold out for Muscat–Kuwait flight. Thank you for all your support,” the airline said. The airline also stated that all the tickets were sold out in less than 24 hours. “Thank you to everyone who contributed, and we wish the national team all the best,” it added.

The same-day return SalamAir flight is priced at OMR89, which departs Oman at 2:25 in the afternoon and arrives 90 minutes later. It departs Kuwait at 10pm that night and lands in Muscat at 1:15 early next morning.

A search on Oman Air’s website also showed that there are no tickets available for Tuesday. “There are no tickets available, and we are flooded with requests for chartered flights. We are working on this, though no decision has been taken,” Jayaraman remarked.

Oman qualified for the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 and Kuwait 1-0, following a 1-0 defeat in their opening game against the United Arab Emirates, topping Group A in the process.

Bahrain finished second in Group B, following a 1-0 win over Yemen, as Iraq topped the group with a 2-1 win over Qatar. “The only alternative is to fly to UAE, Qatar, Bahrain or India and then fly to Kuwait,” travel agent shave suggested.

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