December 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al Oufi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PACA, signing the agreement on behalf of the Sultanate. Greta C. Holtz, US ambassador to the Sultanate, signed the accord on behalf of the US government. Photo - ONA
Muscat: An air transport agreement "Open Skies Agreement" between the Sultanate and the United States of America (USA) was signed at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) on Thursday within the framework of the strong relations binding the governments of the two countries.
The United States-Oman Open Skies agreement permits unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other's territory, eliminating government restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use, and the prices they charge.
This agreement allows for the strengthening and expansion of the strong trade and cultural links and promote increased tourism, benefitting US and Omani businesses and travellers by expanding opportunities for air services and encouraging vigorous price competition by airlines, while preserving commitments to aviation safety and security.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the government of the Sultanate by Eng. Salim bin Nasser Al Oufi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PACA whilst it was signed on behalf of the USA government by Greta C. Holtz, US ambassador to the Sultanate.
Eng. Al Oufi pointed out that the agreement signed today is considered the agreement No. 78 in the field of air transport between the Sultanate and countries of the world. He explained that as per the open skies agreements, this agreement is the 21st.
He added that the number of passengers between the Sultanate and USA stands at more than 49,000 annually. "This is a very good time to prepare for direct flights between the two countries especially with the expansion of Muscat International Airport and other airports in the Sultanate," Eng. Al Oufi said.
He also affirmed Oman Air's ambition to purchase jumbo aircrafts capable to reach the USA in upcoming years.
On her turn, Greta C. Holtz, USA ambassador to the Sultanate, said that the Sultanate is considered a major partner in many trade, tourist and cultural fields and logistic services. She highlighted the growing strong relations between the two friendly countries after signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
She added that the USA is looking forward to sign agreements with the Sultanate in the fields of science and technology. She pointed out that both sides work together in research and education projects with the objective of enhancing the partnership with the Sultanate.
Signing the agreement comes within the framework of efforts exerted by the Sultanate's government, in cooperation with the USA to facilitate movement of passengers, cargo and mail, in addition to tourism and trade exchange between the two countries, which will enhance the competition among airlines companies to provide best services for the passengers.
It is worth mentioning that the upcoming months will witness conducting official talks with a number of countries to discuss activating the agreements signed with them or signing new agreements pertaining to the air transport.
By allowing air carriers unlimited market access to our partners' markets and the right to fly to all intermediate and beyond points, Open Skies agreements provide maximum operational flexibility and commercial opportunity for airline alliances and demonstrate the shared commitment to an open, competitive, market-based international economic system.
The Open Skies agreement is a pro-consumer, pro-competition, and pro-growth accord. It represents a market-oriented approach to aviation relations: airlines, not governments, will be able to decide which cities to serve, the frequency of flights, the equipment used, and the prices charged.