Muscat: Oman’s first budget airline—SalamAir—is planning to launch flights to Sohar and Taif in Saudi Arabia from Salalah.
Confirming this, Francois Bouteiller, chief executive officer of SalamAir, said: “We’re launching the Salalah-Taif-Salalah on June 8, 2017 and we will launch Salalah-Sohar-Salalah flights after Ramadan. We shall communicate on the exact date soon.”
Taif is a city in the Mecca province of southwest Saudi Arabia and is only a few hours’ drive from Jeddah.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an important extension to SalamAir’s network to meet the strong demand for low cost travel,” a travel agent in Muscat said, adding that “these new flights will open new tourism, trade and investment opportunities, contributing to the Omani economy by attracting more tourists and business travellers and in turn spur the creation of employment opportunities in the Sultanate.”
The opening up of the Sohar airport will help the people of the Al Batinah North Governorate once again after Oman Air closed down its route.
“We believe that tourism and investment will grow with the new flights,” according to business leaders based in Sohar.
Sohar airport was opened by Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, as part of 44th National Day celebrations in November 2014, and Oman Air operated an inaugural flight to mark the official opening.
Residents of Sohar said a lot of people travel to Salalah from Sur, especially during the khareef (monsoon) season. “This Salam Air flight will help them,” Mohammed Al Balushi, a resident of Sur said.
Visitors coming to Salalah during the khareef season spent OMR65,663,911 in 2016, reflecting a growth of 30 per cent over the OMR50,421,425 they spent in 2015, according to a bulletin issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information.
The bulletin added that expenditure on leisure constituted 91.3 per cent or about OMR60 million of the total expenditure, compared with 4.9 per cent on business tourism.