In two weeks SalamAir will begin flight operations between Muscat and Salalah as Oman’s first low cost carrier. Government projections show air traffic demand to increase 40% by 2019, making SalamAir’s emergence well timed. However, increased capacity isn’t the only thing benefitting travelers. Increased competition and having a greater choice in airlines both stand out.
SalamAir’s near goals are to operate flights to three destinations from Muscat International Airport using Airbus A320 aircraft. The first aircraft is ready and waiting at MCT and will begin flights to Salalah on January 30, 2017. Flights between Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport will commence February 15, 2017 with two daily flights. However, operations to Jeddah, another destination mentioned during SalamAir’s launch, has no set start date.
Operating as a low cost carrier focusing on domestic air travel could be the right combination for SalamAir. During the 2-3 month Khareef season in Salalah, 2016, eighty eight thousand passengers used Oman Air domestic flights. Demand is only going up. Pair that with a difficult economic climate, and SalamAir looks well placed at the right time.
SalamAir has fantastic prices. Round trip from Muscat to Salalah is about 30 OMR ($78 USD). That’s fantastic compared to Oman Air who can get you to Salalah and back for about 67 OMR ($174 USD). I expect Oman Air to run promotions during the Khareef offering deep discounts to steal back some local travelers. However, we must remember that SalamAir is a low cost carrier, and the 30 OMR ticket price will surely increase to check any luggage, add weight allowance, order a meal, and reserve a seat.
Other airlines in the region, both low cost and normal, operating similar legs to Dubai, Muscat, and Salalah include: Air Arabia, Etihad, Emirates, flyDubai, Oman Air, Rotana Jet, and Qatar Airways. Nobody is beating SalamAir on price. It’s not even close, even if you pay to check a bag.
SalamAir’s nearest international rival is flyDubai who has more daily flight on their Dubai/Muscat route. flyDubai’s normal cost to between Dubal and Muscat is about 68 OMR ($177 USD), but you can often book promotional deals for around 40 OMR ($104 USD). Compare that to SalamAir selling tickets starting at 30 OMR ($78 USD). I expect flyDubai to offer deeper promotions if SalamAir manages to take some of flyDubai’s market share.
What all this means to you is now you have another option for traveling to, from, and around Oman. There are more flights available to you and at a cheaper price. Options that were budget limiting before like flying to Salalah versus driving are now open to consideration. You can even get more creative when traveling to Oman from overseas.
Often times Emirates runs really good sales, but only to/from Dubai, and the Muscat connection kills most savings. Now you can consider flying to Dubai on the sale ticket, staying one night or more to checkout the city, and continuing to Muscat with a budget carrier. All the while keeping your ticket costs under the price of a normally priced ticket with one of the full service carriers.
At the end of the day competition and more choice are good for the traveler, and I am happy to see Oman looking forward.
|Flight Number||Frequency||From/Departure Time||To/Arrival Time|
|OV001||Mon, Wed, Fri||MCT/0835||SLL/1020|
|OV001||Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun||MCT/0730||SLL/0915|
|OV112||Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun||MCT/1645||SLL/1830|
|OV002||Mon, Wed, Fri||SLL/1200||MCT/1345|
|OV113||Tue, Thu, Sat||SLL/1005||MCT/1150|