New Muscat airport construction to be completed by 2016

Construction of the new Muscat International Airport will be completed in 2016, according to Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications (MoTC).

However, the official launch date cannot be announced, as it takes between four to six months to start operating flights after the construction is finished.

“This is to ensure the top safety standards,” the minister said, speaking at the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Ministry of Transport.

He added that construction of the new Muscat International Airport was 86 per cent complete in 2015, though the original plan called for it being 90 per cent complete.

“This is because of many things, including delays by the contractor,” he said.

Mohammed bin Nasser bin Ali Al Zaabi, CEO of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation noted that 1,400 planes fly over the Sultanate’s skies every day. “This is an increase of 19 per cent compared to 2014,” he said.

Also, in an update about Oman Railway, Al Futaisi said that the Ministry of Transport and Communications, in coordination with Oman Railway Company, has worked very hard and invited tenders to begin work on the project

“But we couldn’t start the project, as neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are not ready yet. We are going to discuss railway issues during the meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council transport ministers this year,” he said, adding that the ministry has finished designing most of the tracks and is putting final touches to the Thumrait-Salalah track.


Oman Rail Centre

Dr Al Futaisi also pointed out that the ministry has started building the Oman Rail Centre of Excellence to train and develop expertise.

Reviewing last year’s achievements, he praised the opening of Salalah airport in November 2015, which has the capacity to handle 2 million passengers per year, which can be expanded to 6 million passengers per year.

It was also noted that the annual meeting was held with media and social media reporters.

The meeting, which is scheduled at the beginning of every year, is done to review the work accomplished during the past year and those planned for the upcoming year.

Moreover, Eng Salim bin Mohammed Al Nuaimi, Undersecretary for Transport Affairs in the Ministry of Transport and Communications revealed that a new timing system will be implemented at Sohar port which aims at creating a system for the movement of trucks to ease traffic on the Al Batinah highway

Commenting on the economic situation that Oman is facing, the minister reiterated that the situation is not easy and the ministry has no plans to expand or introduce major projects.

“This situation is an opportunity to focus on current projects and study transportation and communications laws in Oman,” he added.

He said that the new Sohar airport is on its way to becoming an international airport, as it has already received its first private international flight. Of the trucks monitored, 12,410 were found to be overweight, out of 18,260 trucks weighed in 2015, accounting for an average of 68 per cent of all trucks violating the law, according to Mohammed Al Nuaimi.

Most violations were reported in Al Rusail – Nizwa road, followed by Al Batinah road.

Asked how the war in Yemen and the pirate infested sea near Oman’s coastline might impact the development of Salalah airport, Said bin Hamdoon bin Saif Al Harthy, Undersecretary of Ports and Maritime Affairs, said the conflict in Yemen has had no impact on work at Salalah port.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK