Oman’s national airline Oman Air says its newly announced direct flight from Manchester to Muscat will challenge other major carriers in the battle for the lucrative Sub-Continent market.
Speaking exclusively to IndiaGBnews at the OBFA Logistics and Transport symposium at the Mansion House in London Oman Air UK country manager Simon Cook said the new flight would start in April 2017.
Cook said the Manchester-Muscat route, which will complement the now twice daily flight from Heathrow to Muscat, will be aimed at businesses and tourists alike from the region described as England’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
“Manchester Airport has a massive catchment drawing in passengers from Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and over the Pennines into Yorkshire and down to the Midlands,” he said. “Oman is growing rapidly as one of the most authentic and beautiful tourism experiences in Arabia and we can cater to that. Moreover, we see a big market for business travel with more and more business being done between the UK and Oman. And we see this route as being attractive to travellers heading to India, the Sub-Continent and Asia where Oman Air has expanding routes. The North of England and the Midlands have a massive diaspora from the Sub-Continent and we can offer them a better service than other carriers relying on big crowded transit hubs like Dubai.”
Cook said a big selling point for Oman, as a transit hub, is that the newly expanded Muscat Airport, which is due to open in 2017 following a $1.8bn upgrade, will provide a genuinely more pleasant, more efficient stop-over option to travellers.
Mr Cook said the new route will also help Oman Air work more closely with influential tour operators in the North of England.
Oman Air launched a second direct service between Muscat and London Heathrow in April 2016. The service flies through the night, departing Muscat at 01.25 and arriving in London Heathrow Terminal 4 at 06.30. Return flights depart Heathrow Terminal 4 at 08.30 and arrive in Muscat at 18.55. The existing service departs Muscat at 14.00 and arrives at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 18.20. Return flights depart Heathrow Terminal 3 at 20.15 and arrive in Muscat the following morning at 7.35.
Oman Air’s Muscat to London route is operated with Airbus A330-300s. The airline is currently engaged in a major fleet expansion programme, which will see its fleet increase in size to 70 aircraft by 2020. The fleet size currently stands at 40 aircraft, which include Oman Air’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliners.