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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Oman Airports seeks deals for managing international hubs

Exclusive: Oman's airport operator expects to sign first international airport management agreement by year-end

Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airport, at the Global Investment in Aviation Summit in Dubai. Oman is seeking management contracts for international airports. Leslie Pableo.
Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airport, at the Global Investment in Aviation Summit in Dubai. Oman is seeking management contracts for international airports. Leslie Pableo.

Oman is in negotiations with several governments to manage and operate international airports for the first time as it seeks to boost its non-oil revenues.

The state-owned airports operator, which oversees four domestic terminals, is targeting long-term management deals for an additional six hubs internationally and locally, Aimen Al Hosni, chief executive of Oman Airports, told The National in Dubai. It expects to finalize an agreement for one international airport by the end of 2019.

"We’re in talks with certain governments, we’re in a very good stage with them and we’re hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel before the end of this year for one airport," he said.

Oman is focusing on developing its aviation sector to diversify its economy beyond petrochemicals revenues. It is implementing phases of a strategy to boost visitor numbers to 11.7 million from 3.3 million currently and create 500,000 tourism jobs for Omanis by 2040. The Gulf state opened a new passenger terminal at Muscat International Airport in 2018 with capacity to handle 20 million passengers annually.

Muscat International handled 15.5 million passengers in 2018, a 10 per cent increase year on year, according to Oman Airports.

Focusing on the operation and management of more domestic hubs and adding international airports to its portfolio is part of the state-owned company's five-year growth plan.

"We’d like to upgrade our footprint, we’d like to get more foreign direct investment and we have the know-how that we can actually export and sell to other regions and countries."

Mr Al Hosni declined to identify the governments with which it is in talks for airport management contracts or the value of the agreement expected this year.

Oman Airports has also approached oil companies to run airports in oil fields in the south and west of the country, he said, declining to name them. Each airport has an annual passenger capacity of 150,000.

Oman Airports will sign a letter of intent for the management of one oilfield airport in February, he said, declining to disclose details.

"We’re going to take those airports because its our niche market, its our know-how," Al Hosni said.

Oman, the largest Middle east oil producer outside Opec, last year produced an average of oil and condensate of 992,000 barrels per day.

Oman Airports oversees Muscat International Airport and the smaller terminals of Salalah, Duqm and Sohar.

Updated: January 29, 2019 06:49 PM

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