The Sultanate of Oman’s national airline, Oman Air, will not cancel its order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, despite how its grounding has affected the airline’s growth.
Ever since the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX in March of 2019 following two deadly crashes, Oman Air has had to cancel hundreds of flights every month.
The Muscat International Airport (MCT) based national flag carrier currently has five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet of 53 mixed Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer aircraft.
Oman Air has a good relationship with Boeing
While being interviewed during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by the American financial and business news portal, Business Insider, CEO of the Oman Aviation Group (OAG) Mustafa al Hinai said:
“With Boeing, our relationship is going to continue as it is; there is no change in our relationship.”
After having received its fifth Boeing 737 MAX in October of 2018, the Gulf State carrier was slated to receive a further nine aircraft the following year but never happened due to the worldwide grounding.
“Boeing is a very strategic partner of OAG,” Hinai said. “We ordered 30 aircraft – we’ve received some, and the rest are still to come.”
Last summer, Oman Air CEO Abdulaziz al Raisi admitted that the grounding of Boeing’s best-selling jet had caused a major financial impact on the airline and had curtailed its plans to expand its network in 2019 and 2020.
Oman Air is expecting compensation from Boeing
In the interim, since the grounding of the troubled jet due to a problem with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), Boeing has agreed to pay compensation to several airlines. Hinai expects a similar arrangement, saying:
“I think Boeing is going to come out with a fair proposal to us.”
While talking about the Sultanates airlines ambitious growth plans, Hinai went on to say:
“We focus on eight destinations, five of them European cities: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, and Zurich. Apart from that, we have the GCC countries, China and Russia. The US is a phase two for us. Flying to the US will happen through a codeshare in the meantime, but in late 2021, 2022, we’ll be focusing on the US market.
“But we need to really understand the market first, it’s very complex, each and every city. I think we need to invest into this market by understanding the nature of travelers, the type of travelers, what they like, what they dislike.”
Oman Air has a code-sharing agreement with Air Italy
At the moment, Oman Air has a code-sharing agreement with privately-owned Air Italy, allowing passengers to fly Oman Air to Milan Malpensa Airport (MVP) and then Air Italy to either New York or Miami. The fact that passengers have to change aircraft in Italy offers Air Oman no advantage over other larger Gulf State airlines.
The plan would be for Oman Air to attract United States tourists, while also just like Etihad and Emirates, making Muscat a similar hub that can compete with Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
If Oman Air were to deploy one of its 787 Dreamliners on a route to New York it would become the longest route they fly at around 7,050 miles.
While a non-stop flight to New York would certainly be a milestone, it’s hard to imagine it being all that profitable as Kenya Airways found out with its flight from JFK to Nairobi.
What do you think? Will Oman Air start direct flights to the United States or stick to profitable routes? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.