Muscat: Plans are underway to resume international flights from other cities in Oman, according to an update from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) here.
The update comes as part of expanded operations across airports in Oman, which were temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have since reopened on a limited scale.
“The Civil Aviation Authority has taken steps to resume international flights from Salalah and Sohar airports during December,” said a CAA official.
“The authority is working on studying the demand for travel to destinations in Asia and Africa, so that it can determine the number of flights needed to meet them. This is part of our plan to regulate the number of flights between the Sultanate and other countries during the pandemic.”
Adding to this, Captain Mohamed Ahmed, the CEO of SalamAir, said the airline has been readying crews and preparing more planes for their eventual return to the skies.
“The day on which the authorities announced the return of more flights was a day for us to celebrate,” he said.
“We have the crews prepared to return to duty, and our aircraft have been readied for flight once again. We look forward to returning to all of the destinations on our flight schedule, but of course, we do understand that this will depend on both the lifting of restrictions in Oman and other parts of the world.
“The Civil Aviation Authority has communicated to us their plans to restart more flights, and we have been preparing keeping their directives in mind,” added Ahmed.
“We expect more flights to be added to our routes to the Indian subcontinent, because this is one of our areas of high demand, as well as other parts of the Gulf, as and when other countries open up their borders.”
Regarding increased connectivity other cities in Oman, he explained, “We used to have seven flights a week to Salalah – one flight a day – and we will now expand that to 14 flights a week, so we will be operating twice-daily flights there, and from there, we can provide increased connectivity to other overseas destinations. As for Sohar, we have not yet resumed operations.”
A Civil Aviation official at Salalah International Airport said, “Airlines have already been devising their flight plans from Salalah. However, we are still waiting for confirmation to resume international flights from the Supreme Committee. So far, we are only operating domestic flights from Oman Air and SalamAir.”
With Salalah being a tourist destination, primarily during the months of the Khareef, when the rest of the Middle East experiences high temperatures, a number of domestic and overseas operators used to fly to the airport before the pandemic began. Sohar, on the other hand, was a key hub for Qatar Airways.
“A number of airlines including Etihad, flydubai, Air India Express and Qatar Airways and of course, Oman Air and SalamAir used to operate direct flights to Salalah before the pandemic,” explained the official. “We also received a lot of traffic from Europe. We hope to resume international operations soon.”