‘New Muscat airport is massive, awesome’
December 16, 2017 | 10:51 PM
by Shruthi Nair/[email protected]
Public got an opportunity to assess the progress of the new airport and get a first-hand experience of the facilities.

The Times of Oman reporter Shruthi Nair was one of the thousands who attended the new Muscat International Airport trials last week. Here’s her take on the new airport...

The much-talked about New Muscat International Airport has opened for trials, with the Oman Airports Management Company, Ministry of Transport and other authorities giving the public an opportunity to assess the progress of the new airport and get a first-hand experience of the facilities on this 580,000-square-metre property.

I was one of the 270 people who were part of the Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer trials that started from the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. People belonging to different age groups, nationalities and backgrounds had gathered to get themselves registered on a Wednesday afternoon. I was amazed to see families, who had got their children along to participate in the trials, as airports are usually where children are the most restless and parents the most anxious. "We were excited to see the new airport. The children have their winter vacations now; so we thought it would be nice for them to come along too," said Abdul Sattar, a father of two.

After the registration and an interactive debriefing, we were transported to the new airport in Mwasalat buses. Before boarding the bus, we were handed our baggage, passports and tickets, and told about the role we had to play. Some of us were arriving from a destination while others were departing to another. I was an Emirates passenger travelling from Sharjah to Muscat.

The new airport is undeniably massive and can be compared with any of the top international airports. It is well on its way to achieve the goal of being among the top 20 international airports. Wide-eyed, we all walked through the long corridors that had unique purple LED lights, a few plants, and an elegant and classy ambience.

The immigration process was smooth, thanks to the sheer number of counters and personnel manning them; however, when I went down to claim my luggage, my flight was not on the list. I had to proceed without my baggage, which would have been a problem, if this was not a trial.

We did complain to the airport staff about the luggage. This was followed with a quick electronic survey of our experiences so far, before we were given our departure tickets. I had a business class ticket to Kuwait. The check-in counters were on the fourth floor, but I did manage to get a peep into the second floor, which is where you will find the cafes and the food courts. The space was huge enough to accommodate at least 20 restaurants and cafes comfortably in the area.

The fourth floor, which is also the topmost floor in the airport that is accessible to the passengers, is for departures. By the time I reached there, a huge queue had formed in front of the few counters that were open, out of the total 96 counters. I checked an information board and went to the Oman Air counter. A co-passenger felt that there were not enough information boards on the floor. There were also self check-in kiosks beside the check-in counters, which were not functional then. The queue was huge and moving at a tardy pace, and it was only after about 15 minutes of waiting in the line that I realised I had a business class ticket. The business class check-in counters were a little further behind from where I was standing, but once I got there the process was smooth. With the boarding pass in hand, I went to the security control, past the e-gates to the duty free space — which I could see was home to all things luxurious — and then followed the sign boards that led me to my gate. I had to do a lot of walking to reach my gate, but I would not complain about that. The airport is huge for a reason.

As soon as we arrived at the gate, we had to take another survey about our experiences. Most people I spoke to loved the whole experience and were in awe of the new airport. "This airport is just perfect. Especially when you compare it with the existing airport," exclaimed an acting-passenger.

Many others also had strong opinions and took the entire process seriously. "I have tried to give constructive feedback in all the surveys. There are a few glitches that have to be considered," remarked a college student.

The staff and management who were actively involved in the process and were trying to be as helpful as possible were also keen to learn about our experiences. "I would love to know how your experience was. The whole point of the trial is to get honest feedback from the people and understand what we need to work on and where we need to improve," said Pablo Lorenz, trials manager.

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