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Sat 6 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Oman Air CEO unveils overhaul plans

Incoming chief executive Peter Hill aims to transform carrier into a "world-class airline".

The new CEO of Oman Air has revealed his ambitious plans to transform the carrier into a "world-class airline".

"It's going to be hard work, but definitely doable," said Peter Hill speaking to ATN exclusively at last month's World Travel Market.

"We need to bring experts into the business, Omanis into the business and put a lot of effort into re-designing the product - that includes the interior, the uniforms and much more."

Hill, the former CEO of SriLankan Airlines when it was managed by Emirates Airline, who was appointed to head up Oman Air four months ago, said he would not change the corporate branding of Oman Air but promised that "everything on board will be fresh and new".

"Over the next two or three years, I want Oman Air's image in the market to be one of the rising international airlines and in five years, to be considered a world-class airline."

Since joining the carrier Hill has appointed former SriLankan Airlines chief commercial officer Barry Brown as vice president commercial and Nigel Stoker as vice president Oman Air Holidays.

Stoker said he had been charged with the task of putting together an inbound and outbound leisure business with holiday packages to Oman targeted at the top end.

Hill has ambitious plans for Oman Air Holidays, which he anticipated would account for 30-40% of the business "in the next couple of years".

Revamp and holidays aside, Hill is currently focusing on improving Oman Air's Muscat-London service, which currently operates into the UK capital's Gatwick airport.

Having managed to secure a slot at Heathrow, the service will switch to the UK's main air hub on January 15 and the timings of the service will improve "to suit passengers at both ends", promised Hill.

"We will also upgrade the product," he said. "We have just managed to find a couple of A330 aircraft, which we will take on lease and that will operate on the London route from March onwards.

Oman Air had its own new A330 aircraft arriving in August/September 2009, he added. International expansion is also on the cards, said Hill, pinpointing France, Germany, Kuala Lumpur and destinations in East Africa and the Far East as ones to watch, in addition to its current London and Bangkok services.

"Over the next two years we will add three or four destinations in Europe and two or three in the Far East," he said.

There were no plans for Oman Air to compete "with the likes of Etihad Airways", stressed Hill.

"We are not interested in using Muscat as a hub for a transit," he said.

"We want to be a sustainable airline focused on travel to and from Oman."

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