Oman Air plans to launch Bahrain flights by March


Oman Air could begin flying to Bahrain by March next year.

The Muscat-based carrier is reviewing its proposed spring timetable to determine whether it can accommodate the service, a report said.

If aviation officials approve the plan, Oman Air will become the 24th passenger carrier to serve the Bahrain International Airport.

In April, the airline appointed World Travel Service (WTS) as its general sales agent.

Oman Air is the only regional airline that does not include Bahrain on its on-line route network, although it recently launched a code-sharing agreement with Gulf Air to accommodate its growing transit passenger traffic.

"It has never been a question of if we fly to Bahrain," says the airline's commercial and planning director, Edward Gravogel.

"It is a question of when to do it."

Oman Air has been anxious to expedite its service to Bahrain after the two countries endorsed an aviation agreement paving the way for what Oman Air executives describe as a more economically viable route.

The civil aviation authorities in both the countries have given Oman Air intermediate traffic rights, which will allow flights originating in either direction to make stops at other Gulf airports before landing at their final destinations.

Gulf Air is the only other regional airline that has similar transportation rights, primarily because it remains the official flagship carrier for the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain, its four ownership states.

"Our strategy is to utilise small aircraft and offer high frequency service," said Gravogel.

He said aircraft shortage had slowed Oman Air's efforts to branch out to new destinations.

"That problem will soon be solved," he added.

Oman Air will acquire five new planes over the next three years. It is purchasing two 106-passenger Boeing 737-300s and will be leasing three others.