RUNWAY TRENDS

Oman 2019 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: MUSCAT’S NEW AIRPORT

Muscat International Airport was inaugurated in March 2018 as a modern gateway to Oman and an access point to all the business opportunities the Sultanate offers.

With the number of business and leisure visitors to Oman on the rise, Muscat's old airport terminal, built in the 1970s, no longer sufficed. Realizing this, Omani authorities built Muscat International Airport, a futuristic world-class gateway to the country that makes the right first impression. Not far from the old terminal, the new airport enjoys easy access to strategic points of Muscat via Sultan Qaboos Street, Muscat Expressway, and 18th November Street. With an elegant design using a mixture of traditional Arabic motifs and postmodern architecture, the newly inaugurated airport is nothing short of an art installation, which justifies the USD1.8 billion spent on it. Some have gone as far as calling the airport an architectural marvel.

In any case, Muscat International is regarded by many connoisseurs of design and architecture to be among the world's top 20 airports. However, the airport is not solely hailed for its aesthetic merits, as it also offers superior technical specifications. Stretched over 580,000sqm , the new airport has no less than 7,000 roofed parking spaces for short and long term stays.
In line with the environmentally friendly policies Oman's government has been following in recent years, Muscat International was designed to inflict minimal damage on the environment, while its internal design makes it as passenger-friendly as possible. There is a rich array of duty-free shopping areas, dining options, and hospitality establishments. There are regular buses operating along Sultan Qaboos Street, and the nearest bus station is in walking distance of the terminal's entrance. Travel agencies, car rentals, and currency exchange services are also all easily accessible.

As for its technical specifications, the airport's new runway is capable of handling 40 flights per hour and accommodating gigantic wide-body aircrafts such as Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s. With over 100 check-in counters, 10 baggage reclaim belts, over 40 gates, and boarding bridges that considerably reduce boarding times, Muscat International has an annual passenger capacity of 12 million. This number will be raised to the staggering figure of 48 million by the end of the airport's final phase of expansion. To put things in perspective, the old terminal was capable of handling merely 1.2-1.5 million passengers a year. A potential tenfold increase in the number of passengers going through the airport calls for stricter security measures to prevent any mishaps. As such, the new airport employs latest biometric technologies and security screening methods to guarantee passenger safety.

The new Muscat airport will also function as the hub of the sultanate's flag carrier, Oman Air, whose flights opened the airport on 20 March 2018. The new airport will be a more suitable base for Oman Air, given the growth in the size of its fleet and its ambition to become a major player in the region's aviation sector. The higher number of flights that the new air traffic control tower and runway can handle, as well as the larger capacity of Muscat International's transit area, make it an ideal hub for the Omani flag carrier and any other airlines that might arrange their long-haul flights via Muscat.