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Oman Air will start flying to the US by 2022, CEO says


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Oman Air will start flying to the US by 2022, CEO says

This story requires our BI Prime membership. To read the full article, simply click here to claim your deal and get access to all exclusive Business Insider PRIME content. Oman Air is planning to launch flights to the US by late 2021 or 2022, Oman Aviation Group CEO Mustafa Al Hinai told Business Insider.The airline…

Oman Air will start flying to the US by 2022, CEO says

This story requires our BI Prime membership. To read the full article,

simply click here to claim your deal and get access to all exclusive Business Insider PRIME content.

  • Oman Air is planning to launch flights to the US by late 2021 or 2022, Oman Aviation Group CEO Mustafa Al Hinai told Business Insider.
  • The airline began a codeshare agreement with Air Italy in 2019, allowing it to issue tickets between Oman and the US with a connection in Milan.
  • However, the nonstop flight could help attract both business and leisure travelers, Al Hinai said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

DAVOS, Switzerland — Oman Air is seeking to finally accomplish a longstanding goal: operating regular service between Oman and the United States, Business Insider has learned.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oman Aviation Group CEO Mustafa Al Hinai said that the airline is on track to begin flying nonstop to at least one US destination by 2022 — if not sooner.

State-owned Oman Air, led by CEO Abdulaziz Al Raisi, initially planned to start service to New York in 2018. It applied for a Foreign Air Carrier permit from the US Department of Transportation that year, which was granted in early 2019.

In late 2019, the airline signed a codesharing agreement with Air Italy, enabling Oman to issue from Muscat to New York and Miami with a stop in Milan.

“Now, we can fly through Air Italy,” Al Hinai said. “We have an active codeshare. You go Muscat to Milan, Milan to Miami and New York.”

However, direct service is more appealing for the carrier, which plans to target a mix of leisure and business traffic. The airline could capitalize on passengers connecting through Oman to other destinations in the Middle East, Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, the business model used by the three major Middle Eastern airlines, or the “ME3” — Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates.

However, Al Hinai said, the Oman Aviation Group — a state-owned company which also owns Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services, alongside the airline — is even more interested in attracting passengers whose destination is Oman.

“We are very much working on the destination model, focusing more on inbound travelers to Oman,” he said. We are connecting passengers, and we are bringing more quality passengers to stay in Oman for leisure or business.

Although the long distance of a direct flight to New York would be a novelty for the airline — at just over 7,000 miles, it would be more than 3,000 miles farther than any of the airline’s current flights — Oman Air does have experience growing its longhaul network and focusing on outside markets in coordination with the country’s national tourism board.

“We, as aviation, focus on eight destinations, five of them European cities,” Al Hinai said. “London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich. Apart from that, we have the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, and China and Russia.”

“The US is a phase two for us. Flying to the US will happen in through a codeshare in the meantime, but in late 2021, 2022, we’ll be focusing into the US market. Because it’s a very big market,” Al Hinai said.

“But we need to really understand the market first, it’s very complex, each and every city,” he added. “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.”

As the airline continues to focus on European cities, Russia, and China, and to rely on its codeshare with Air Italy for US traffic in the interim, Al Hinai said the company will continue its market research and outlining its strategy, with the aim of actually beginning service by late-2021 or 2022.

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