Up, up and away? Trials begin at new Muscat International Airport

Energy Wednesday 30/August/2017 11:21 AM
By: Times News Service
Up, up and away? Trials begin at new Muscat International Airport

Muscat: Oman’s new international airport is already running trials to ensure passenger transfers run smoothly, bosses have revealed.
The news suggests that the jewel in the crown of Oman’s tourism plans for the future could be up and running by year-end, in line with the Ministry of Transport’s estimates. Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT) trials are now underway at the new airport, the airport’s management revealed.
“New basic ORAT trials have been held for three weeks in a row at the New Muscat International Airport,” Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) said on Wednesday.
ORAT is a testing system that ensures the operational readiness of a new airport.
The system tests the airport’s capacity to deal with passengers and irons out glitches in transfer processes, to ensure a smooth, trouble-free start to operations from day one onwards.
Wasim Zaidi, general manager, Oman, Jet Airways, said, “We are hopeful about the terminal opening this year. We were part of a recent familiarisation trip to the planned terminal through OAMC.”
“It looks state-of-the-art and a much improved version. The new terminal would mean better guest services, more duty-free options and more capacity for airlines, which would translate into a higher influx into Oman and revenue generation on airside and landside. It’s a win-win for all,” he added.
Airline officials said the taxi-time will also come down once the new airport opens.
“Currently, the airlines land on the new runway and it takes around 15 to 25 minutes to taxi to the old terminal building. Once the new airport is ready, the taxi-time will come down,” said Wickrama Adittiya, country manager for Sri Lankan Airlines.
Citizens and residents have also welcomed the news that the airport could be open by the end of this year. “This will be one of the biggest things to happen in Oman as we have been waiting for it for quite some time,” Sujata, an Indian expat living in Oman, said.
Already this month, OAMC has invited local and international companies to bid for the management of passenger trolleys at the new airport, prompting speculation that the airport will finally open its doors this year.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport and Communications told the Times of Oman that they have always hoped the new terminal will begin operations by year-end.
The new Muscat International Airport will have a capacity to handle 12 million passengers when it is opened.
Combined passenger numbers at the Muscat International and Salalah airports are inching towards the nine million mark, according to latest government data.
The total number of passengers at the Muscat International and Salalah Airports had reached 8,717,854 by the end of July 2017; the total number of international flights at the two international airports touched 61,241.
There was a 19 per cent increase in total departures through the airports during the period and a 16 per cent surge in the total arrivals until the end of July this year, according to figures released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).