Oman Air eyes more seats from India, bets on leisure, medical tourism

Oman Air is hopeful for an increase in traffic rights to India which would drive more leisure tourists to the West Asian country and help feed its flights to Europe and Africa.

At present, Oman Air operates 161 flights per week to eleven Indian cities, utilising the 27,000 seats allocated to airlines from each country. Oman is seeking an increase in seats and access to Ahmedabad and Kolkata, which will boost its Indian presence. Seat entitlements and access to destinations are negotiated between respective governments. 

"We have requested for more seats and are waiting for the Indian government's response. We are positive that the government will consider our demand," said  Oman Air Chief Executive Officer Abdul Aziz Saud Al Raisi. The airline is celebrating its 25th anniversary in India.

India is the second most important market for the airline after Oman and contributes to around 15 per cent of its sales. While a majority of traffic from India flies onward beyond Muscat, the airline is aiming for an increase in point to point traffic between the two countries. Muscat is the second largest destination in the West Asia region for Indian travellers after Dubai. In recent months, an economic slowdown has impacted airline yields. Oman Air, however, is hoping that leisure and medical tourism, along with trade and investment ties, will boost the traffic between India and Oman. 

Oman received over 300,000 Indian visitors in 2017, a growth of seven per cent over the previous year. Traffic is estimated to grow 18 per cent in 2018. "We are looking to increase point to point traffic to improve our revenue. The average yield from connecting traffic is lower than point to point traffic because of higher competition on those markets," said the airline's Chief Commercial Officer Paul Starrs.