Oman Air to stick with 737 Max or­der

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Oman Air will not can­cel its or­der of Boe­ing 737 Max af­ter the ground­ing of the air­craft fleet in March 2019. The car­rier has five 737 Max in its fleet and 25 more on or­der.

Fol­low­ing the in­volve­ment of Ethiopian Air­lines’ Boe­ing 737 Max 8 jet crash in March 2019, Oman Air had grounded all air­craft of the se­ries, like the rest of the world. The ground­ing and any chance of de­liv­ery of new Max planes soon has re­sulted in Oman Air can­celling hun­dreds of flights ev­ery month and im­pact­ing its am­bi­tious growth prospects.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land to Busi­ness In­sider, the Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial and busi­ness news por­tal, the news of Oman con­tin­u­ing with the or­der was re­vealed by Mustafa al Hi­nai, CEO, Oman Avi­a­tion Group (OAG). “Boe­ing is a good friend of Oman. Air­bus as well,” Hi­nai was quoted by the por­tal as say­ing. “With Boe­ing, our re­la­tion­ship is go­ing to con­tinue as it is, there is no change in our re­la­tion.”

Fol­low­ing the de­liv­ery of its fifth Boe­ing 737 Max plane in Oc­to­ber 2018, Oman Air had said that it was ex­pect­ing to re­ceive nine more 737 Max planes in 2019, which never hap­pened.

The air­line has a mixed fleet which in­cludes a com­bi­na­tion of Air­bus A330 wide­body jets, Boe­ing 787 Dream­lin­ers, Boe­ing 737 planes and sev­eral Em­braer jets. “Boe­ing is a very strate­gic part­ner of OAG,” Hi­nai said. “We or­dered 30 air­craft - we’ve re­ceived some, and the rest are still to come.”

In June last year, Ab­du­laziz al Raisi, CEO, Oman Air, had said that the Max ground­ing had caused a ma­jor fi­nan­cial im­pact and had sig­nif­i­cantly cur­tailed the air­line’s ex­pan­sion plans for 2019 and 2020.

Boe­ing has reached agree­ments with sev­eral air­lines for com­pen­sa­tion re­lated to the ground­ing and de­liv­ery de­lays, and Hi­nai ex­pects a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment. “I think Boe­ing is go­ing to come out with a fair pro­posal to us,” he said.

On the air­line’s ex­pan­sion plans, Hi­nai said, “We fo­cus on eight des­ti­na­tions, five of them Eu­ro­pean cities: Lon­don, Paris, Frank­furt, Mu­nich, Zurich. Apart from that, we have the GCC coun­tries, China and Rus­sia.

“The US is a phase two for us. Fly­ing to the US will hap­pen through a code­share in the mean­time, but in late 2021, 2022, we’ll be fo­cus­ing on the US mar­ket,” he said.

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