Oman Air begins flights from London Gatwick

28 Nov 2007 by Tom Otley

Oman Air began operations to London’s
Gatwick airport from the Omani capital of Muscat
this week. The two class (economy and business) flight using an Airbus A330
leaves Muscat at 1600, arriving Gatwick 2030,
returning 2230 from Muscat
and arriving at Gatwick 0945. The new flights were described by CEO Mr. Ziad
Bin Karim Al Haremi as being aimed at leisure travellers, to ensure that the
increase in tourism to Oman

“We are not going to be the taxi of the world with
travellers using Oman as a hub to get to the other side of the world,” Mr Al
Haremi said, “We are here as an arm of tourism into Oman.”

The new connection comes as a belated response to the
altered ownership of Gulf Air, which once was owned equally between Oman, Bahrain
and Abu Dhabi, but which latterly saw Abu Dhabi withdraw to launch Etihad, with Oman
withdrawing in May 2007. As a result the Omani Government has concentrated its
efforts on Oman Air for connections abroad, and has increased its 33% ownership
to 84%, with the expectation being it would become the sole owner in the near

London is the 24th
destination for Oman Air, with its 25th to Bangkok also starting this week. The airline
applied for slots at Heathrow, but was able only to secure slots for the winter
schedule and so chose Gatwick where it has a consistent departure time for both
summer and winter schedules. Nevertheless Mr Al Haremi said:

“We don’t know whether we will stick with Gatwick or get the
slots at Heathrow and move there.”

At Gatwick Oman Air will use the Aviance lounge in the North
Terminal for its business class passengers. The airline’s frequent flyer
programme – Sindbad – allows top tier travellers to take advantages of the free
limousine service available both in the UK
and Oman
which business class passengers enjoy.

With the government’s increase in ownership comes
management’s focus on new aircrafts, new routes, and new logos. The CEO
optimistically said they are hoping to expand or increase frequency in the next
year to France, Germany, Kuala Lumpur,
Jakarta, Damascus,
Yemen, and the
Indian subcontinent, where they have approached the government for additional
destinations. By 2012, he said, they are planning to have 30 wide-bodied and 12
narrow-bodied aircrafts.

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