Here's when the first flight will land at the new Muscat airport
February 14, 2018 | 9:05 PM
by Times News Service
A file photo of the inside of the new passenger terminal at the Muscat International Airport. Photo: Shabin E.

Muscat: Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) has announced that the first flight to arrive at the new Muscat International Airport is expected to land at approximately 6pm on March 20, 2018.

The final flight from the old Muscat International Airport will take off at 3pm the same day, the authority revealed during a press conference on Wednesday.

Authorities also said the preparations for the opening are 89 per cent complete and will be completed by March 14.

Speaking to the press, Dr Mohammed Al Zaabi, CEO of PACA, said: “As many as 40 readiness tests out of 45 have been performed so far, involving some 21,000 volunteers.”

Oman’s Ministry of Transport and Communications stated: “In addition, more than 4,000 people have participated in the take-off test. The number of simulated flights reached 786, and more than 82,000 bags were used, in addition to more than 26 accompanying exercises. These exercises will continue until the airport is operational.”

To help passengers in the transition, Al Zaabi announced the immediate launch of a media campaign, to be handled by the Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC). The ministry said in a statement: “In addition to advertisements through social media platforms and local and foreign newspapers, billboards will be displayed at the current airport and on the streets of Muscat from March 1, 2018.”

“As part of the media plan, text messages will be sent to all passengers, citizens, and residents in different languages to inform them about the move to the new international airport,” it added.

All ground equipment will be moved to the new airport on the afternoon of March 20, with management officials working in coordination with the new airport’s readiness team. PACA’s CEO outlined an ambitious future for the airport, saying: “In 2017, we had 14 million passengers. We expect, God willing, to surpass 16.5 million in 2018.”

On the opening day alone, 177 flights are expected to touch down at the new airport.

State-of-the-art facilities

Security at the new terminal, Al Zaabi added, would be of the highest standard with state-of-the-art facilities. Additionally, the new airport has received 85 per cent of the required international permits with the entire process expected to be completed at the end of this month, he confirmed.

Senior officials at the conference reiterated the authority’s goal of making the new terminal one of the top 20 airports in the world by 2020.

Spread across an area of 335,000 square metres, the new airport will be able to handle more than 20 million passengers per year, with plans to increase the capacity to 48 million in the future.

The new facilities include 6,000 square metres of duty-free shopping, 8,000 parking spaces, and 96 check-in counters. The building has 149 elevators. The northern car park has five levels and accommodates over 1,100 parking slots, while the five-level southern car park can accommodate some 1,200 parking spots. The external works of the Muscat International Airport Project include 2,054 covered parking slots, 2,262 open parking spots, and 406 parking spaces for airport employees. There will be 82 counters for the Royal Oman Police and the new passenger building will have two main gates to accommodate heavy aircraft, such as A380 and B747.

Ten 7km luggage delivery belts, with two for domestic flights, with a capacity of 5,200 bags per hour, have been built.

The total area of the passenger building is 580,000 square metres and the passenger terminal comprises three suites, each with three levels.

The retail outlets are located on both sides of the building and cover an area of 12,000 square metres. There are lounges for first class and business class passengers, and offices for airlines, car rental agencies, information, and other services. The building also accommodates a four-star hotel with 90 rooms, swimming pools, and food lounges.

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