Oman regional airport boost expected

Oman plans to establish a batch of new regional airports by 2028-29, as it seeks to expand both domestic travel and inbound tourism.

Expansion expected at Oman's regional airports (Image: Oman Airport Company)

According to Aviation Week Network  (AWN) six sites are scheduled to become operational.

At present, Oman’s airports – primarily serving the capital, Muscat and the second-largest city, Salalah – handle around 17 million passengers annually. This figure is forecast to rise to 50 million by 2040, partly as a result of the greater connectivity created by the new sites.

Not all the sites have been officially identified, but one will be located in Ras Al Musandam, an Omani enclave overlooking the strategically important Straits of Hormuz and surrounded to landward by UAE territory.

Others are believed to include Masirah, an island off the Omani coast and the current site of a military airfield, together with Sohar and Jebel Akhdar. Previously mooted plans have also included upgrading some desert airstrips that currently serve oilfields in the country, which lies at the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula.

Oman regards inbound tourism as a major plank of its economic development. Previously, it has focused on upscale resort and hotel development, but there has been more focus recently on three- and four-star establishments.

Additionally, in recent times there has been growing interest in services from Muscat and countries throughout the Gulf to Salalah, southwest Oman, which catches the edge of the Indian Ocean monsoon. This brings mist, rain and cooler temperatures in early summer, attracting tourists from other Arab nations where the temperatures are rising rapidly past the 40C mark at that time of year.

The new airports will be of interest both to flag-carrier Oman Air and to LCC SalamAir. The latter airline signed for six Embraer E195-E2s (plus six options) in October 2022, which would be well-suited for handling what are likely, at least initially, to be fairly thin routes. 

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.