Oman Air has been steadily growing its capacity and enhancing its services over the past few years. Paul Gregorowitsch, Chief Executive Officer, Oman Air, shares with TravTalk the current market trends, the challenges that the airline faces and its plans for the year ahead.
Q How has Oman Air fared during the past year?
Oman Air experienced a 20.1 per cent increase in passenger numbers, with over 7.7 million passengers travelling with the airline in 2016, compared to 6.3 million passengers in 2015, and the current contribution from Oman Air, as a national airline, to the economy of the Sultanate of Oman has been close to RO 900 million (as per the Oxford economic report update, 2017). However, the fluctuating oil prices continue to affect Oman Air in different ways, and the Middle East is still experiencing economic downturn. The issue is not that people are not travelling with us, but the ongoing economic impact of low oil prices has affected the high-yield business-travel traffic. As a Middle Eastern airline, Oman
Air benefits from the thriving oil economies, and if this isn’t the case and there is a general economic downturn, then all Middle Eastern airlines will have to work harder to attract the high-yield guests.
Q Are there any new routes or codeshares planned for the region?
The airline is always looking at opportunities to develop and grow its network and will be looking to expand further in 2017, and we do not rule out further developments in the ME. Recently, most of the codeshare announcements have been focused on Europe and the North Atlantic. For the time being, Oman Air will keep a close watch on the range of opportunities available to us and will take a decision if and when we need to about any more codeshares in the ME.
Q With the new airport coming up in Muscat, what are Oman Air’s growth plans?
The new airport will have a very positive effect on the Oman economy with its ability to handle 12 million passengers a year. We expect that effect to cascade to Oman Air as well. Knowing that we are soon going to have world-class facilities in place at our airport hub, Muscat, we are actively looking forward to expanding our services.
Q Please share the growth plans of Oman Air in the ME region for 2017.
The airline will closely monitor the demand curve for the ME routes and consider further expansions and increase in frequencies accordingly. Currently, to continue its growth and increase the number of customers, Oman Air has signed a number of agreements with service providers such as Sixt, Bank Muscat, Shangri La Hotels and Resorts, Rocketmiles, Al Nahdha Resort and Spa and Muscat Duty Free that increase the mileage earnings of our Frequent
Flyer Programme members.
Q Are there any new incentives for travel agents/tour operators from Oman Air?
Travel agents are an integral associate of Oman Air and so they are always included in the airline’s incentive plans. Various loyalty schemes have been introduced for them over the years, like productivity-based incentives, which run throughout the year. Recently, we introduced the Ramadan baggage offer, which includes permitting an additional baggage in economy as well as competitive fares on the European and Far Eastern routes. This assisted our travel agents and tour operators to sell Oman Air products on a bigger and better scale.
Q Will there be any new offers from Oman Air for summer travel?
Oman Air creates a range of offers throughout the year to help guests plan their holidays, and abiding by that tradition, we will continue to introduce competitive offers that our guests can take advantage of when booking their holidays.