National carrier will serve southern city of Guangzhou; reveals plans to make debut in US
Oman Air will open its first route to China in July, serving the southern city of Guangzhou after flights to Beijing and Shanghai proved too tough to secure.
The Gulf carrier will also commence services to Istanbul and plans to add New York in about two years, making its debut in the Americas.
Oman Air will deploy its latest Boeing 787-800 and 737 aircraft on the new routes, with the Chinese city to be served four times weekly, chief operations officer Abdullah Bu Saidi said in an interview in Muscat on Wednesday.
“We were supposed to choose Beijing but there was no space for even one aircraft,” he said. “The second choice was Shanghai but the hotel room occupancy there is high, so we chose to operate to Guangzhou, where there is also demand from the Gulf and Middle East.”
Oman Air currently operates two 787 wide-bodies and will take two more this year, leaving a further two Dreamliners due, as well as four single-aisle 737s, the mainstay of its operations. The carrier aims to expand its fleet from 40 planes to 57 by 2018 and 70 by 2020 as it builds a local network serving the Mideast and India while adding a handful of long- haul services to major cities.
The airline will increase frequencies to Iran to 21 weekly in anticipation of market growth after the lifting of trade sanctions, and aims to serve New York daily from 2018, tapping demand from both business and leisure travelers, Bu Saidi said. It’s already introducing a second daily flight to London Heathrow and will operate to Paris daily, versus five time a week previously.
State-owned Oman Air, which has limited scope for growth as the top three Gulf carriers led by Dubai-based Emirates siphon long-haul flights via huge transfer hubs, aims to reduce losses to 50 million rial this year from 86 million in 2015, while paring government funding to 35 million rial from 54 million rial, he said.
The adjustment comes as the slump in crude prices shrinks government budgets in oil-based economies.