Can you discuss the role that PACA has played in facilitating phase one of Muscat International Airport?
PACA's core business is to act as a regulator for the civil aviation sector. In addition to that, we provide air navigation and meteorology services. For phase one of the new Muscat International Airport, PACA is primarily a regulator. PACA has participated in the early stages of design along with ensuring that all the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are carried out. PACA is the relevant authority for civil aviation in Oman and can grant certification before an airport is put into operation. We also play a major role in making sure that the air traffic management side is in place, which takes a lot of effort. For example, in Salalah, it took four years to ensure that PACA was ready for the first day of operation. We play a major role in providing meteorological services, which forms a part of our latest undertaking. Coordination in this area is important, as meteorological services provide support to air navigation and is fundamentally important for the sake of saving lives and protecting assets in this country. Oman has a new state-of-the-art center that provides both meteorological services and multi hazard early warnings to reduce the impact of extreme hazards such as tsunamis, tropical cyclones, and flash floods on the Omani people and possibly also for people in neighboring countries. Because Oman is on the Indian Ocean, the weather is sometimes unstable and so our services need to state of the art.
There was a recent meeting with the Minister of Transport regarding the challenges of maintaining human resources. What can PACA do to meet this challenge?
When there is economic growth in any country, there will be higher turnover rates especially for the government because people have more opportunities. The private sector is always more competitive and potentially more attractive. It is necessary for the government to generate qualified people to go into the private sector—it is the backbone of the economy of any country. We have always tried to increase the level of employee satisfaction. To do that, we have tried to foster employee development, create open communication between management and employees, and recognize and celebrate employees with excellent performance. The new infrastructure, the new building, and new systems are all contributing to create a good working environment. We do not want to be a traditional government organization, and so we try to be creative in that area.
In terms of SME support, how does PACA currently interact with SMEs in order to facilitate their development and benefit from their services?
The mandate is to allocate 10% of all the tenders to SMEs and we are working hard to adopt that strategy. In civil aviation, however, we deal with highly specialized companies that provide us with a challenge. We look to assign jobs to SMEs especially in the area of event planning and organization. SMEs are also given an opportunity to be involved in providing training and consultancy services for support functions, the development of design materials, websites, and web applications.