December 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Muscat Airport staff line up to reflect number 40 to mark the 40th anniversary of opening the airport. Photo - ONA
Muscat: Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC) on Tuesday organized a celebration at the VIP Lounge under the auspices of Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning, to mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of Muscat International Airport in 1973.
Sheikh Ayman Al Hosani, Director General of Muscat International Airport, in his speech said at the beginning, Muscat International Airport was a narrow dust strip with limited equipment and facilities, which was built in 1929. It included a communication centre, customs office, maintenance workshop and aircraft parking. He added that it remained the main airport till 1970, when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said ordered to redesign and construct what was then called "A'Seeb International Airport". A Dutch company was been appointed to provide consultancy service and the construction contract was awarded to Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas) Limited.
"Three years later, the Sultanate's skies become safe for ready to receive the biggest and fastest aircrafts. His Majesty the Sultan's aircraft was the first aircraft to land at the strip."
The Sultanate also joined the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC) and the World Meteorology Organization.
Muscat International Airport Director General pointed out that the subsequent year witnessed a remarkable growth. The number of passengers increased from 129,000 passengers in 1974 to about 700,000 passengers in 1980. The growth in cargo activity also urged for more improvement and development to the airport at the subsequent years. Many steps were taken to enhance the capacity of the airport to keep pace with the remarkable growth. The air and land services were also developed.
He added that by the end of November 2013, Muscat International Airport can absorb about 7.6 million passengers through 74,286 air flights. The number of air carriers operating flights through Muscat International Airport increased to 32 companies. Work is also underway to upgrade and develop the airport to meet the growth in activity.
He pointed out that since February 1st 2008 and after getting the required approvals from the International Civil Aviation Organization, the airport name has been changed from A'Seeb International Airport to Muscat International Airport to link it to name of the capital.
The Secretary General for the Supreme Council for Planning and Chief Guest accompanied by attendees toured the picture gallery.
On the other hand, a picture gallery was also opened at Muscat Grand Mall in Al Khuwair. It includes 35 pictures that showcases the stages witnessed by the civil aviation sector throughout the past 43 years.
A number of recreational performances and competitions were also organized at the airport terminals with active participation by passengers.