Duqm: National carrier Oman Air started a direct charter service between Muscat and Jaaluni airport (near Duqm) in Al Wusta governorate.
Oman Air will operate three flights a week on charter basis for the Special Economic Zone Authority in Duqm, which will help the authorities to cut short a six-hour journey by road from Muscat to one-and-a-half hours for their corporate clients, including potential investors.
"The launch of this direct air route between Muscat International Airport and Jaaluni is the result of the continuous cooperation and coordination between the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm, Oman Air and various state agencies working for the development of Duqm," said Yahya bin Said Al Jabri, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm.
"Certainly, this air route will link Al Wusta Governorate with the rest of the Sultanate, and will assist citizens, businessmen and investors to save up to five hours of travel time. Currently, it takes about six hours to reach Jaaluni from Muscat by road while the flight between Muscat and Jaaluni takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes. Also, the current frequency of three flights a week to Jaaluni airport is adequate for the time being," added Al Jabri.
Al Jabri was the chief guest at a function to mark the inaugural flight. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation of officials from various ministries and government offices in Oman, senior officials of Oman Air, Oman Airport Management Company and journalists. The flight was preceded by a cake-cutting ceremony at Muscat International Airport.
Oman Air is operating a 40-seater Airbus aircraft in this sector. Earlier, the Jaaluni airstrip was used by the defence forces and the authorities have extended that runway to operate the charter service. Once the Al Duqm new airport becomes operational, flights will be diverted to the new airport.
"The integration process between infrastructure and social development, as directed by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is evident in such steps and projects, as shipping lines and domestic flights usually shorten the length of time between destinations, and hence save time, money and other resources," he noted.
"We consider the operation of this sector between Muscat and Jaaluni as adding to the series of successful initiatives that are aimed at promoting and developing the infrastructure in the region. This will be followed by similar steps that will accelerate the completion of the infrastructural development of the Special Economic Zone of Duqm, as well as the rest of the wilayats of Al Wusta governorate, not to mention the indirect impact of these initiatives on the various sectors of tourism, investment and industry, beside the direct positive effect on the lives of citizens of the Al Wusta Governorate, as well as individuals, whose work and interests are associated with the governorate."
Announcing the new service, Oman Air's Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Pearce, said: "We are pleased to be launching a new charter service between Muscat and Jaaluni from November 19. This will boost the economic development of the city, which is currently undergoing a major transformation."
"In addition to providing the much-needed air transport link with Muscat, the new service underlines Oman Air's commitment to supporting economic growth and increased prosperity throughout the Sultanate. "This is also a vital step in the expansion of Oman Air's domestic routes, enabled by the creation of new airports."
The new charter service is being launched following an agreement between Oman Air and SEZAD and will help boost investment in this key industrial centre. With a land area of 1,777 square kilometres and 80 km of coastline along the Arabian Sea, the SEZAD offers an attractive package of investment incentives and tax cuts that aim at enhancing the business environment for the private sector.