The airline’s first route will be between Muscat and the Arabian nation’s second city, Salalah, some 550 nm to the southwest, near the border with Yemen. Multiple daily flights are planned and will be followed by the company’s first international route, to Dubai, on Feb. 15.
The airline will use three Airbus A320s on lease from South America’s LATAM Group, as its initial equipment.
With a population of just 3.5 million, the Omani market is relatively small, but SalamAir CEO François Bouteiller said he believes there is strong demand for an LCC in the country, particularly on the Muscat-Salalah route.
Both Bouteiller and his counterpart at national flag carrier Oman Air, CEO Paul Gregorowitsch, have previously spoken of cooperating, rather than competing, on certain routes.
Further demand is anticipated as a result of a plan by the Omani government to ramp up tourism trade over the next few years.
The region around Salalah is particularly popular with visitors from other places on the Arabian peninsula over the summer as it catches the edge of the Indian Ocean monsoon and the temperature drops sharply to the mid-20C range (around 75-80F), contrasting sharply with temperatures that can surge as high as 50C (120F) elsewhere in the Gulf. Many Arab tourists come to enjoy the cooler temperatures, mist and rain, which turns the arid landscape green.
Bouteiller, a former CEO of Saudi hybrid carrier flynas, has said SalamAir will be more akin to UK LCC easyJet, rather than an ultra-LCC, such as the US-based Spirit Airlines, in its style of operation.
(Alan Dron- ATWOnline News)