Oman Air says to fly to 40 destinations by end-09 including Maldives

Wednesday, 4 March 2009 08:53

* To fly to Paris, Frankfurt, Colombo, Maldives in 2009

* Eyes flights to Kuala Lumpur in 2010

* To have 23-plane fleet by end-2009 - CEO

* No plans to divest any shareholding in near-term

* Sees 2009 passenger numbers at around 2.3-2.4 mln

ABU DHABI, March 3 (Reuters) - State carrier Oman Air will fly to 40 destinations by the end of 2009 after taking delivery of nine new Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (EAD.PA) aircraft, its CEO said on Tuesday. Peter Hill said the airline had already taken delivery of one Boeing 737-800 and would take delivery of four B737-800s and four Airbus A330-300s in the coming months, all as part of previously announced deals. "Our current fleet is 15, with the new deliveries it will go up to 23 by the end of 2009. With new aircraft we plan to fly to new destinations in Europe and Asia," he told Reuters in an interview at an aviation conference in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

"We were a regional carrier until recently but now we are developing our new route structure. New destinations this year include Paris, Frankfurt, Colombo and Maldives. Next year we plan to add some other destinations such as Kuala Lumpur. But by end 2009, we will fly to 40 destinations," he said.

Oman Air will also receive three A330-300s in 2011 and six B787's in 2012, he said.

The airline is owned 92 percent by the Oman government and 8 percent by prominent investors in Oman. There are no plans to divest any shareholding in the near term, he said.

Oman Air carried 2 million passengers in 2008 compared with 1.6 million passengers the previous year.

"We should be pushing up to 2.3 million or 2.4 million passengers in 2009 simply because we are expanding to new destinations," Hill said.

"No doubt, 2009 will be a tough year but this region is not so badly affected. A lot of the market in Oman is captive because we are the main carrier," he said.

Revenues are expected to rise in 2008 over the previous year, he said, declining to give specific figures.

Cargo business accounts for a meagre 2 percent of the airline's total revenues, he said but is expected to rise to at least 12 percent over the coming five years. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; editing by Simon Jessop)

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