Safety top priority as airports set to reopen in Oman

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Muscat: Airlines from Oman airports may be allowed to operate two flights a week to their existing destinations initially.

The move is a part of the steps being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country, as airports prepare to reopen on October 1, 2020.

An official from Oman Airports told Times of Oman, “The Sultanate has allowed for two flights to Oman every week, and for this reason, other airlines from other countries will operate accordingly. Similarly, Oman has been allowed to operate two flights to other countries. Flight operations from Oman to other countries will be shared between Oman Air and SalamAir.”

Captain Mohammed Ahmed, the CEO of SalamAir, said this was only a short-term measure put in place to initially limit the number of passengers at airports, thereby reducing the potential risk of the spread of infection of COVID-19.

“This is a temporary measure that will be put into place from October 1,” he said.
“The plan is to reopen the airport in a few stages. This is not confirmed, but it was just a suggestion. I think it will stay this way for two weeks, and after that it will be increased to three flights, and from the first of November, we can expect the full reopening of the airport.”

As part of the reopening of airports, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority is conducting inspections on the airports in the country to ensure they are fit to resume operations, and can accommodate the new precautionary measures required during the pandemic.

“In the context of assessing the level of implementation of the health, safety and aviation protocols for COVID-19 at the Sultanate’s airports, the authority will carry out on Sunday, September 20, an evaluation of the protocols at Duqm Airport.
“The aviation authority will soon announce the operating controls for limited air transport for scheduled flights from October 1, 2020.”

“This is a rule that is for everyone, although there might be some exceptions,” he added. “We would have preferred a full-scale reopening, but we understand that some measures had to be taken for the good of everyone. We are still not sure of what the reaction of the community will be towards travelling: will they be open to travelling? Will they be scared? This might be a good thing at the end.”

Mohammed Ahmed welcomed the decision of the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID-19, on the partial opening of Muscat International Airport, and pointed out that the Civil Aviation Authority had given airlines the opportunity to operate two flights a week to their previous destinations.

“SalamAir will operate flights to all its existing destinations, if possible,” he added. “We have signed contracts with some of the most specialised international firms to keep its aircrafts free from viruses, microbes and germs. Any passenger who steps on board will be confident that he is entering a highly hygienic aircraft.”

A travel agent also told Times of Oman that airlines had shared with him a reduced schedule of flights, which was to be followed until further notice. One airline, which operates flights to destinations such as Cairo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi and Lahore, among others, will only fly two aircrafts a week to these locations, subject to clearance.

“We have received inquiries from customers regarding flight availability to certain places, and have made it part of our policy to tell them that any airline can only travel to a destination twice in a week,” he said.

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