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Fri 1 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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Oman Air goes international

Oman Air will take the lead in opening up the country to international business and leisure travellers.

Oman Air is set to launch a raft of new international routes, as the future of former Omani national carrier Gulf Air hangs in the balance.

Although no dates have been finalised, new European routes could be launched "as soon as October", according to Usama Al Haremi, manager corporate communications and media department, executive wing, Oman Air.

"We will be looking at London for sure, then the other traditional European destinations like Geneva, Zurich, Paris and so on," he said.

Another ATN source said the Far East was high on the carrier's agenda, with Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur identified as likely destinations.

The Omani carrier has been in talks with Airbus for the lease of several long-haul wide body aircraft, and recently signed a letter of intent to purchase a number of Airbus A330s.

"We are looking for quick results in one of the most challenging environments for acquiring wide body aircraft in a long time," said Alan Arch, divisional manager commercial, Oman Air.

Temporarily leasing aircraft would enable the airline to launch new routes quicker than would otherwise be possible, he added.

Meanwhile, Bahrain-based Gulf Air has dropped its twin-hub strategy amid an ongoing financial crisis; a decision made by new chief executive Andre Dosé.

The restructuring process includes axing some of its loss-making routes including Singapore, Sydney, Dublin, Jakarta and Johannesburg, by July, making room for Oman Air to move in and claim its portion of the market.

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