The long awaited opening of Muscat’s new airport terminal is now upon us. At almost a decade in the making, this building will play an important role in Oman’s quest to be a Middle East travel leader in the future. What’s in store for the future of this airport?
On Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 all air services will shift to the shinny new terminal at the center of the existing airfield. This move was LONG delayed. I remember hearing 2014 as an opening at one point, and there were other dates set along the way, including 2017. However, 2018 is the year we finally get to view inside that new terminal as passengers. What to expect:
Muscat’s New Airport Terminal: by the numbers
- 20 million passengers per year capacity
- 580,000 square meter terminal
- 96 check-in counters
- 29 passenger boarding bridges
- 10 remote aircraft stands
- 87 immigration/emigration counters
- over 7km of luggage delivery belts
- 5,500 bags per hour baggage processing capacity
- 8,000 parking spaces
All these numbers are for phase one of the expansion, yet there are four stages that can take the airport up to 48 million passengers per year. Crazy big numbers for sure. You might be thinking this is a lot of capacity for such a small country, and you’d be right. However, as I wrote last year, government projections see a 40% growth in air traffic by 2019, and we look to be on track.
Part of this growth comes from an unexpected source, the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Oman remains neutral in this spat, but behind the scenes has become Qatar’s close trading partner. Trade between the two nation is up 2,000%, and there is no end in sight. Mostly this comes through Oman’s strategically placed ports in Sohar and Salalah, but Muscat International Airport also plays a key role.
Both Oman Air and Qatar Airways have increased air capacity, allowing travelers to use Muscat as a transit gateway between Qatar and the rest of the GCC. This increased demand has even grabbed the attention of the new kids on the block, SalamAir, who appear to be accelerating their business.
What all this means is there is no better time than now to open Oman’s new airport. Traffic is up, trade is up, tourism is up, and the future looks bright.
Do you think Oman can be the GCC’s aviation leader in the future? Let me know in the comments below.
If you like this post, you will probably also like my podcast about Oman called Sultanate. Each month, I bring you along on my adventures across the kingdom to share with you something truly unique. From the unwritten history of Muttrah Souq to the endangered “tigers” in the Dhofari mountains, we cover it all. Click the play button to listen ⬇︎