Further to the recent remarks made by the Tourism Committee in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Governorate of Dhofar to some media outlets, regarding Oman Air’s operations, particularly Salalah-Dubai route. Mr. Usama Karim Al Haremi, Manager of Oman Air’s Corporate Communications and Media Department, stated that the airline operates two weekly flights between Salalah and Dubai on Tuesdays and Fridays. However, due to the Islamic pilgrimage season, Tuesday’s flight on 19 December 2006 was consequently canceled. On Friday the 22nd, another flight was canceled as result of low demand. This specific sector on average has not exceeded at any time 56% load factor since commencement.
He added that, the Salalah-Dubai flights on Tuesdays are being suspended from 21st January until April 16, 2007 for the fleet’s major maintenance examinations (C checks) which is mandatory. This is to ensure that the fleet sustains the requisite high levels of safety as per the international standards before the commencement of peak season.
He highlighted that previously Oman Air used to operate four frequencies on the Salalah-Dubai route weekly however, due to minimal bookings and poor load factor, flights were reduced to two weekly. The statement that Oman Air's intention is to monopolize this route is not applicable, since another airline was actually operating on the same route. However, due to certain causes, the airline could no longer continue its operations and therefore suspended it. Oman Air genially welcomes any other airlines wishing to operate to Salalah. Various airlines are actually flying to Salalah, during peak and off peak seasons.
Regarding the monopolizing of Muscat-Salalah Route, he stated that “operating this domestic route by the flag carrier of the Sultanate comes in bond with the Eighth Freedom Right or “Cabotage". That is the carriage of air traffic that originates and terminates within the boundaries of a country, and almost no country permits it.”
Concerning the statement that Oman Air is incapable of bearing with heavy load between Muscat and Salalah, the manager made clear that this information is inaccurate. The fact that flights on average make 75.5 % load factor confirm the availability of seats. It is due to the upsurge of demand on weekends, also the turn up of passengers with unconfirmed bookings what obviously cause the unnecessary complications.
He notified that, to deal with increasing demand during peak seasons, Oman Air routinely increases its frequencies. To cite an example, during Salalah monsoon season in 2006, Oman Air operated 121 additional flights between Muscat and Salalah with an average of five trips daily.
With regards to the ticket pricing on the Muscat-Salalah route, the Manager clarified that the price of the one-way economy class ticket has augmented from RO.27 in 1995 to RO.34 in 2001 until today. Round trip ticket prices have also increased from RO.50 in 1995 to RO. 68 in 2001 that remains fixed to date. Yet for example, nonexclusively there are attractive packages presented by Oman Air, which offer special prices of RO.180 for passengers who travel four journeys within a month between Muscat and Salalah.
Mr. Al Haremi concluded that the slight rise in prices was due to the mandatory rising fees of insurance and fuel. The cost of fuel has experienced tremendous increase, as the price of a gallon soared from 93 cents in 2001 to 212 cents in 2006. This price increase concept was adopted by all airlines worldwide, including low cost airlines. As for Oman Air, these impermanent fees will gradually fade away as the reasons for its existence vanish.