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Muscat: The Sultanate's national carrier Oman Air is planning to start a new service between Muscat and Goa, a western Indian state, by next summer, a top-level official of the airline told journalists on Sunday.
The national carrier, which is embarking on a massive expansion programme to enhance fleet strength to 55 planes by 2017, plans to operate three weekly flights to Goa, which will go up to five eventually, using a 154-seater Boeing 737 aircraft.
The airline will fly to Goa when it gets new aircraft.
Oman Air also has plans to double its services to two flights a day (morning and night) between Muscat and various destinations in the Indian sub-continent, instead of a daily flight now.
"We are aspiring for more traffic rights to India to enable us to fly to every destination in India twice a day – morning and night. We now fly twice a day in Muscat-Mumbai, Muscat-Chennai and Muscat New Delhi sectors. We want to serve Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram twice a day," said Abdulrahman Al Busaidy, chief operating officer of Oman Air.
He said Oman secured 5,000 additional seats to India three years ago and the airline's proposed new service to Goa is from within the existing flying rights.
Al Busaidy also noted that talks between Oman and Sri Lanka are scheduled for November in Colombo to double its flights from one daily flight in Muscat-Colombo sector to twice a day.
"We are also trying to double its flights to Kathmandu."
Further, plans are afoot to raise number of daily flights in Muscat-Dhaka route.
Oman Air is launching new services from Muscat to Manila, in the Philippines, and Jakarta, in Indonesia, from December 2014.
However, Oman Air CEO Paul Gregorowitsch said the airline is not planning to fly to cities in the United States.
Within the domestic sectors, plans are afoot to start operation between Muscat and Sohar by the end of the year.
Besides replacing ATR planes with Embraer in Muscat-Khasab sector.
"But it requires upgrading (Khasab) airport facility."
Another proposal is to raise flights from Salalah airport, when the expanded airport facility gets ready by next year.
Oman Air plans to raise it flights from Salalah to Dubai, Muscat and Kuwait.
In the next 12 months, 16 new planes will join the airline's fleet.
Currently, Oman Air has a fleet strength of 31 aircraft.
The fleet expansion is part of a larger plan to strengthen the country's national carrier, at a time when two international airports – Muscat and Salalah – are about to complete expansion and three regional airports are getting ready to receive passengers.
The new aircraft will be a mix of both narrow body and wide-body planes.
Gregorowitsch said Boeing 787 Dreamliner will join the fleet by next year, although it got delayed by two years.
However, Oman Air does not have any concern due to the delay in getting the planes.
The airline is also looking at 787 900s, which will enable it to have large business class.
Gregorowitsch said Oman Air is investing in new aircraft, destinations, new products, new technology, call centres and people.
Oman Air, which incurred heavy losses last year, is hoping to achieve profit with additional investments by 2017.
New operating model
Gregorowitsch said Oman Air is working on a new operating model, which will be introduced by January next year.
As per the new operating model, there will be more flights to European destinations, increase connectivity, efficiency and Oman Air will control international flights through Muscat airport.
For instance, passengers will find connecting flights to various destinations.
Also, there will be more flights to Riyadh and Jeddah to help those who go for Umrah in Saudi Arabia.
There is also a plan to raise transit passengers coming to Muscat airport from 60 per cent to 70 per cent of total passenger traffic by 2017, after the new facilities are ready.
Gregorowitsch also said that there is a plan to create separate business units for different divisions within the airline, which include catering, cargo and ground handling.