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Thu 7 Jan 2010 10:14 AM

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Oman Air sees 17% passenger rise in 2009

Flag carrier to add Katmandu and Kuala Lumpur to schedule this year.

New destinations and new aircraft saw Oman Air post a 17 percent increase in passenger traffic last year, despite the troubles affecting the worldwide aviation industry.

The introduction of the Airbus A330 to Oman’s flag carrier allowed the firm to increase its fleet by eight aircraft to a total of 21.

Five new destinations added over the course of the year means that Oman Air now offers scheduled flights to 32 destinations. It also added frequencies to key destinations.

The carrier’s cargo division saw an impressive 67 percent rise in revenue year-on-year, although this is from a low base. In 2008, Oman Air’s freight division accounted for only 2 percent of total revenues, a poor figure by comparison with other regional carriers.

In March last year, CEO Peter Hill said that the company needed to raise this ratio to 12 percent of total revenues over the course of the next five years.

During 2009, Oman Air announced that the government had increased the company’s capital from $130m to $780m, which will go towards the carrier’s long-term strategic plan.

Towards the end of last year, the company inked a deal with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer to purchase five Embraer 175 aircraft from the E-Jets family, with options for five more.

For 2010, Oman Air is planning to extend its network to Katmandu, Kuala Lumpur, as well as undisclosed locations in East Africa. Two more A330 aircraft are earmarked to join its fleet during the course of the year.

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