PORT OF THE DAY

Oman 2017 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Aimen Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), on the growth and development of Oman's airports.

 Aimen Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni
BIOGRAPHY
For the past 20 years of his professional career, Aimen Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni has been leading different organizations, holding executive positions in various sectors such as banking, telecommunications, services, and insurance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration.

OAMC recently released its own five-year corporate strategy. What are some of the main pillars of this strategy?

Our vision is to be among the top-20 airports in the world by 2020. To do this, we need to excellently manage and develop our airports as gateways to Oman and beyond, working closely with our people, partners, and communities. We have three focus areas. We will continue to manage our airports to deliver an exceptional experience. We will also grow our business and impact through developing our land assets and looking for business opportunities outside of our airports' boundaries.

How will the advent of a second ground handler at the Muscat International Airport improve service and what are the benefits to creating competition in this field?

Aligning with our vision, it is our pleasure to announce these strategic partnerships with our second ground handler. Two instead of one monopolized ground handling companies will bring a multitude of benefits to overall operations at Muscat International Airport. We anticipate that the competition will serve to enhance quality and reduce costs, factors that will not only benefit travelers, but also airline operators. In addition, the introduction of the second ground handler will translate into an additional 400-500 initial jobs that will be subject to legal Omanization requirements. For OAMC, it is important to be operating at maximum efficiency as we gear up for the launch of the new Muscat International Airport terminal. This will truly be a world-class gateway to the beauty and opportunity of Oman, and it is a key project within the government's economic development strategy. The airport will also position the Sultanate as a modern and attractive hub for travelers transiting through the region. With the increased quality and efficiency as a result of two ground handling operators, Muscat International Airport will surely be in good stead to become one of the world's leading airports as per OAMC's 2020 transformative strategy.

What growth have you seen in passenger traffic over the past year in Oman's busiest airport in Muscat, as well as the country's young airport in Salalah?

With such limited facilities at the current Muscat airport, OAMC has worked extensively to break records in terms of passenger growth YoY. In 2014, Muscat International Airport hosted a total of 8 million passengers. Building on that, 2015 saw an impressive 18% increase to end the year with 10,315,358 passengers. In 2016 we broke the previous records. There are many constraints because of the limited space in the current airport, but we are pushing to get the maximum number possible. Salalah Airport has developed the tourism sector immensely. It has boosted the tourism sector in the Dhofar region and has turned it from a seasonal spot to an all-year destination. With more airlines flying directly to Salalah, Salalah has become the top destination in Oman after Muscat.

What are your expectations on Salam Air's first year of operations, being the country's first low-cost airline?

Salam Air declared the beginning of a new era in local competition for our strategic and national transportation partner Oman Air, within the Sultanate's civil aviation sector. The inception of Salam Air, along with which has come large aspirations from the local community, serves to establish a new cornerstone in the government's plans to develop Oman's civil aviation sector. Salam Air will allow for further commercial competition, hinting toward the future that the civil aviation sector has been waiting for, and will serve to benefit Omanis and residents alike. In launching its commercial flights, Salam Air has taken great strides.

OAMC is in a unique position to provide vital assistance in the country's priority sectors of logistics and tourism. How does OAMC position itself in line with the government's announced goals in these areas?

Oman has begun the process of devising a national economic plan to grow its non-oil sector. Logistics, among tourism and manufacturing, has been identified as one of the key priorities to develop in order to diversify the source of revenue for the country. Oman Airports plays a vital role alongside the Ministry of Transport in developing this sector. We are working accordingly with the ministry to accomplish these targets and promoting Oman as a tourism destination as well as creating opportunities in the logistics sector.