In an interview to Oman News Agency, Abdulrehman bin Harith Al Busaidy, Oman Air’s executive president said the airline would launch 5 new routes before the end of this year in an effort to expand external route network.
These new services will connect Muscat to London, Cairo, Bangkok, Karachi and Kuala Lumpur. Oman Air will lease 3 Airbus A330 and a single Boeing 767 during the next four months to serve its new routes in Europe and East Asia.
In addition, Oman Air will launch its Beirut service in June, via the United Arab Emirates (most probably AUH or DXB, to be confirmed).
The airline is due to receive another 2 Boeing 737-700 in May and June 2002.
Although this is great news for the airline, some questions remain unanswered:
First, from 2 Airbus A310-300 plus one B737-400, Oman Air is in a process to standardize its fleet into a single-type one using B737NG (-700 and –800). Leasing A330 and B767 will add 2 other types for which the airline’s crews are not rated. Unless these will be wet-leased until the airline receives more B737NG (one in May, the other one in June)?
Second, even if Oman Air goes for A330-200 and B767-300, both wide bodies, how are they going to fill up these planes? They dropped the A310s because they were too large and costly to operate.
Last but not least, they will have to fight heavy competition on most of these new routes: British Airways to London Heathrow (B772), Thai Airways (A332), Emirates (A332 and B772/773), Pakistan International Airlines (A300 and B733) and Gulf Air (A343 and 332) as for the other destinations. How can they get any share in such a market? Maybe they are planning to compete with a lower fare? No information has been released on this, so far.
Oman Air is a nice airline, but a small one. They are trying to enter a highly competitive market where they have no experience. I really hope they will be successful and wish them good luck. I am just curious to see the outcome…
As soon as I get some more details about this, I will post you.