Muscat: Soaring parking fees at Muscat International Airport are finally coming down after travellers hit out at a 150% hike.
In welcome news for many residents, the long-stay fee which was increased in December 2013 to OMR5 has been rolled back to the earlier OMR2.
Confirming the decision, Abdullah Mohammed Al Busaidi, head, media and PR, Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), said, "Since we are keen on providing best services to our customers, we are deferring the decision to increase the fee until the completion of the new parking lot."
He added that the company is keen to regulate the parking lots at the airport to ensure a smooth flow of traffic and reduce peak time congestion.
The decision came after a number of residents expressed unhappiness over the move to raise the airport parking fee. They had termed the decision as "unjustified and not convincing."
One traveller explained that the increase in the airport parking tariffs caused inconvenience to many as it acted as a disincentive for leaving their vehicles at the airport parking while travelling on a short visit.
"Earlier I would park my car while visiting Dubai for three days, but with the new raised fee, it was turning out to be very expensive since it amounted to a 150 per cent increase," said Saud Al Salmi.
The fee hike forced travellers to use taxis or rely on friends to drop them at the airport to avoid parking their vehicles at the airport. The residents used various social media tools to convince the OAMC to backtrack from its decision.
An official source at the OAMC explained that the tariff increase that came into effect from January 2014, came after the company noticed many users leaving their vehicles parked for long stretches of time. He added that the company, through the fee hike decision, was trying to regulate the parking areas.
Ali Al Bahri, a frequent traveller, said, "Due to the nature of my job, I have to travel a lot and often leave my vehicle parked at the airport's parking for several days." He added that when he arrived at the Muscat International Airport recently, he was shocked at the parking tariff charged.
"I went to the OAMC's office since I assumed that there was some kind of a mistake. However, I was in for a shock when the employee confirmed that this was the new tariff for airport parking," said Al Bahri.
Welcoming the new decision, he said, "I believe they should raise the fee only when a new service is provided by the company to the travellers".
On the other hand, Shoaib Al Balushi, a Salalah resident, explained that the hike in the airport parking tariffs forced him to drive to Salalah which turned out be cheaper.
"This move is not justified and could alienate travellers, especially those moving between Muscat and Salalah. I usually park my vehicle at the airport at spaces meant for parking vehicles for a long period of time and the fee was OMR 2 per day," said Al Balushi.
OAMC increased the parking fee following a decision to increase the parking capacity. The increase came with OAMC deciding to reserve the Car Park 1 for staff vehicles and merge Car Parks 2 and 3 to accommodate more public vehicles.
The parking rate is now 500bz for an hour, and an additional 500bz for every 30 minutes thereafter, up to five and a half hours. The 24 hour rate was increased to OMR 5 from the original OMR2.