While some flights from neighboring countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to Iran have been cancelled Oman Air takes advantage of the situation by transporting their passengers for Mashhad, Iran for its religious culture and traditions.
Mashhad, Iran's second largest city, has been chosen to be next year's Capital of Islamic Culture and will see many people travelling to it for its religious sites such as Imam Reza's Shrine, as well as it being a cultural and educational hub for many Islamic scholars. Oman Air took the golden advantage of cancelled flights from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to transport its pilgrims to Mashhad which will boost the airline's and Oman's economy as well as culminate relations between the two countries.
"We are new now in Mashhad and we will coordinate with our colleagues in our networks to provide special packages for Mashhad," said Abdul Rahman Al Busaidi, Deputy CEO and Executive Vice President Commercial of Oman Air.
"In fact, we have brought with us a number of business people from Oman. They will be negotiating with hotels here for special rates people who visit Mashhad," he added.
He also added that Mashhad also has business traffic such as mining from precious metals which is beneficial for Omani handicrafts.
Omanis travelling from Muscat to Iran will be able to gain a visa on arrival while Oman Air are pushing government authorities to ease visa procedures for Iranians visiting Oman.
Oman Air are also using the Mashhad route to connect pilgrims who would like to travel to the city place like Dubai, Eastern Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
"We are focusing on connections where pilgrims would like to come to Mashhad like Bahrain, Dubai, Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad and Bombay. So there are all for people who would want to go to Mashhad for pilgrimage," said Al Busaidi.
"And as for Mashhad, we will be focusing on tourists. Those who want to go to places like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jeddah for Umra. So it is a balance of connections. Even for the business man who wants to go to London. We are covering the latest traffic to Mashhad as well as the leisure traffic and business traffic from Mashhad," he added, while also mentioning that 50 Bahraini passengers travelled to Mashhad on Oman Air's first flight.
Oman Air expects 85,000 passengers to travel to and from Mashhad during the first year of service with that number expected to rise to 100,000 and 120,000 during the second and third years respectively.
Recently, Oman Air passengers have flight delays as well as cancelled flights and their frustration and complaints have been voiced on Oman Air's twitter page.
When asked for an explanation for these delays and cancellations, Al Busaidi said, "Oman Air has always been consistent with flight times and all our flights travel on time, but unfortunately we faced some unexpected and unwanted situations."
"For example, there was an aircraft in Dubai that had its front and main tires burst. The debris hit the underside of the wing from which then fuel leaked from it. This aircraft is still grounded and in maintenance," he added, where he explained that the aircraft suffered heavy damage which needs to repaired prior to it being operational.
Other incidents such as the bird strike which entered one of Oman Air's engines in Thiruvananthapuram, India and another in Dhaka where a barrel was lifted off of the ground during a storm and created a dent in the aircraft.
"All these are unfortunate situations are sudden and unexpected. So it will take time to repair these aircrafts and operational again," said Al Busaidi.
Meanwhile, Oman Air are planning on increasing their flights to some destinations as well as planning to open their first direct China route to Guangzhou in winter.
They are planning to increase flights to Paris from five flights a week to daily flights, as well adding a second flight to London.
Amman flights will increase to nine flights weekly up from seven and flights to Zurich will increase to eight flights per week from six.