The Airbus A350 is proving itself as a highly capable airliner. Now according to Aviation Analyst, Oman Air will be the latest airline to order the A350. With the aviation industry steadily growing in Oman, it would make sense for the airline to expand its fleet in order to offer new routes to new markets. This news comes during the same year that Oman Air has invested significantly in their business and first class offerings on their B787 aircraft.
Who Are Oman Air?
With a fleet of 52 aircraft, Oman Air serves as the flag carrier of Oman. The airline in its current form was founded 25 years ago in 1993, with a wet-leased B737-300. Since then the airline’s fleet and operations have grown substantially. As such, the airline now operates with a varied fleet of 10 Airbus 330 aircraft, 38 Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft, and 4 Embraer 175 aircraft. Indeed, some of the Boeing aircraft are the newest in the skies with the B737-MAX8 and the B787 in both the -8 and -9 varieties. By the end of 2019, Oman Air expects to have seen growths of 40%.
Why the A350?
Investing in the A350 would be a very strategic move for the airline. Both the A330 and A350 have common type ratings. This means fairly little training is required for a pilot to become familiar on one aircraft if they know the other. According to Airbus, it takes just 8 days to type rate an A330 pilot on the A350. As such, Oman Air could easily establish a pool of pilots who can fly both the A350 and A330. This means that there is greater flexibility to substitute pilots if necessary.
Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsular. This means that Oman Air’s operations are occurring fairly close to those of Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates. In fact, Qatar’s national airline was the launch customer for both the A350-900 and A350-1000. As such the A350 is clearly suited to flying in the Middle Eastern market. This is despite the airline not trying to act as connection airline, taking passengers from A-B via Oman.
Upgraded Premium Offerings
The new A350 aircraft will likely be perfectly paired with Oman Air’s new premium cabins. The airline has recently invested in significantly upgrading its business and first offerings. Business class on both the -8 and -9 B787s is comprised of the Apex suite in a 2-2-2 configuration. This is the same seat Korean Air uses in first class on its B787s. This allows for a substantial amount of privacy, comparable to Qatar’s Q-suites. In addition every passenger benefits from direct aisle access. The airline also offers suites in its first class cabin on the B787 aircraft in a 1-2-1 configuration.
With Oman Air in negotiations with the FAA to secure the rights and authorisation to operate flights from Muscat to New York, there is a distinct possibility that these new aircraft will be operating that route. If that goes well, Oman Air could seek to operate additional routes to the US.
Which routes do you think Oman Air would use A350 aircraft on? Would you like to fly on one? Let us know in the comments below!