A BROADER RANGE

Oman 2017 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO of Oman Air, on future objectives, increasing competition, and the airline's part in boosting tourist arrivals.

Paul Gregorowitsch
BIOGRAPHY
Paul Gregorowitsch took up his role as CEO of Oman Air in August 2014. His appointment continues a career in the aviation industry that spans more than 35 years. Previous positions include Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Director at Air Berlin, where he was also a member of the Management Board; Chief Executive Officer and President of Martinair, Hollandl and a range of positions at Air France-KLM, including Executive Vice President of Commercial. In addition, Gregorowitsch was part of the executive team responsible for amalgamating the passenger divisions of Air France and KLM, and was the Co-Chairman of the Alliance Steering Committee of Northwest Airlines and KLM.

After achieving all of the stated objectives for the company last year, what are some of the new and current objectives on the agenda for Oman Air?

By 2020, the airline will operate 70 aircraft, flying close to 70 destinations. We have launched new services to destinations such as Singapore, Goa, and Dhaka and have increased frequencies on many of our established routes. These and other moves enabled Oman Air to carry 6.3 million passengers in 2015, up from 5.1 million the previous year. We operated more than 28,000 round trips, served 7.5 million meals, and handled 10.4 million passengers at Muscat International Airport. As the national carrier and one of the country's largest employers, we continue to make an important investment in enhancing the skills, experience, and capacities of Oman's workforce. All of this activity has enabled us to meet one of our most important objectives: to make further progress toward profitability. Oman Air increased its revenues by 14.1% to OMR465.971 million in 2015. We also reduced our losses by 21.2% to OMR86 million.

With the announcement of an Omani budget airline coming online for the first time in the country, what effects do you anticipate this new airline will cause on competition in the industry?

Oman Air welcomes the expansion of Oman's aviation sector and competition from both Omani and overseas carriers. Our strong market position has been achieved over a period of time by delivering consistently high standards of service, excellent reliability, and on-time performance. As a result, we have a loyal and much-valued customer base. As more people are introduced to the pleasure and convenience of air travel, they will increasingly seek out quality and this will bring them to Oman Air. A robust Omani aviation sector will benefit Oman Air. We believe in maintaining a cordial relation with all its competitors, especially those who share our Omani heritage.

Tourism is a priority sector for the country in the ninth Five-Year Plan. What are Oman Air's plans to keep pace with the country's strategy to increase the number of tourists each year?

As the national carrier of our country, Oman Air is committed to promoting the Sultanate of Oman as a wonderful destination for tourists through our international network. Not only do we fly the flag of Oman across the world, but we also actively promote the destination of Oman, both independently and in partnership with other organizations. The expansion of Oman Air's airport activity is already supporting the growth of the tourism sector and the enhanced capacity of existing airports, together with the opening of new ones, means that international travelers can enjoy much-improved facilities. This also means that both domestic and international travelers can visit a broader range of locations and experience Oman's diversity with much greater ease. As Oman Air's expansion program continues, we will access more global markets, raise awareness of Oman's beauty, rich culture, and world-class hotels. That means that many millions more people will have the opportunity not only to consider Oman as their next destination, but also to experience Omani hospitality.

What is your outlook for Oman Air over the next 12 months?

Oman Air will continue following its 10-year plan to expand its fleet and to increase the size of its network. We are now well placed to meet or exceed our targets for 2016. We will unveil more new destinations and fine-tune our on-board products. Most importantly, however, we will work even harder to provide a sublime air travel experience for our existing customers and for those who have yet to discover Oman Air. Having just launched a second daily service to London Heathrow, we are working to launch a new service to Manchester in 2017. Later this year we will unveil new international destinations—including, I anticipate, one in China—which I am confident will delight our customers.