The Sultanate of Oman is one of the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Oman has a strategic location on the Arabian sea and the Indian Ocean, making it an important territory that many aircraft overfly whenever operating to the Far East and the Indian Subcontinent.
In winter, when it’s quite cold in the northern part of the globe, Oman is a preferable destination for tourists from all over the world, as Oman has nice climate, beautiful sandy beaches and well-serviced resorts.
Oman also has a thriving oil and gas industry, rich fishery wealth, along with growing agriculture production targeted for export. All of the mentioned contribute to busy business aircraft operations to the Oman.
There are some differences in operations to Oman compared to operating to other countries in the GCC. We are going to highlight these differences in addition to giving a comprehensive overview of the important regulatory and operational features of business aviation operations to Oman.
Currently, Oman has two international airports: Seeb International Airport in the capital Muscat (OOMS / MCT), which is the main airport of the country, and the hub of Oman Air, the national carrier of Oman. The other international airport is Salalah (OOSA / SLL) in the southern part of the country. Salalah is an amazing city to visit in July and August, which is the rainy season, and when the mountains essentially turn green.
Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) is a governmental entity that is responsible for the management and operation of OOMS, OOSA, and the new airports that are currently under construction in Oman: Ad Dugm, Suhar and Ras Al Hadd airports.
Being the airport that is the hub of Oman Air, and the only main one for both commercial and general aviation operation to the capital Muscat, OOMS is a busy slot coordinated airport, and parking in OOMS cannot be easily secured as it requires pre-approval from Oman Air.
The peak hours in OOMS are currently from 0500 to 0800 UTC and 1730 to 2200 UTC. During these hours non-scheduled flights cannot be accommodated in OOMS due to limited stands. Slots are required in Muscat airport OOMS, and the ACA Company (Airport Coordination Australia) is responsible for granting the slot.
Works in OOMS airport are ongoing for the finalization of the construction of a new terminal that will allow more parking spaces for general aviation.
Oman Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) is the authority responsible for issuing overflight and landing permits in Oman. The request must be sent to PACA in a special format, including fields for specific information that is required by PACA for the assessment of the request and the issuance of the permit. Any missing information will delay the issuance of the permit.
The information includes: Operator name, full address and contacts, aircraft type and maximum take-off weight (MTOW), registration number and call-sign, confirmation that aircraft is fitted with ACAS II and serviceable transponder, route and schedule, purpose of flight or landing, receiving party, passenger numbers and details, crew number, nationality and details, and finally the company responsible for the settlement of the navigation fees.
For overflight permit requests, a guarantee must be provided that the aircraft is not carrying any ammunition of war, military cargo, aerial photography, electronic surveillance and/or reconnaissance apparatus.
Valid operator and aircraft certificates are required to be sent with the landing permit application (AOC, registration, insurance, airworthiness, noise and radio license certificates). In case of revising the issued permit, the revision application must be sent in the original request format, but with the changes inserted into the application.
The lead time of Oman landing permits is 72 hours before the flight operation date. However, even if applied for on time, a landing permit will not be issued before securing parking confirmation from Oman Air.
To obtain a permit from Oman PACA, an account needs to be opened with them for the purpose of settling the navigation fees. Therefore, relying on flight permits agents with accounts in PACA is recommended for promptly obtaining the permit.
Oman Air is the only ground handling company providing ground services in OOMS and OOSA. It’s the same ground handling company that provides services to all the scheduled airlines and also the business aircraft operating to the Omani airports.
Business aviation uses the same commercial terminal in Oman. There is no specific business or general aviation terminal or Fixed Based Operator (FBO) in OOMS and OOSA. Therefore, it is recommended that you appoint a supervisory local flight support company with agents who can coordinate and supervise the services rendered to the aircraft, passenger and the crew in the airport ramp and air side of the terminal.
The travel experience of the passenger in OOMS can be improved by using the available CIP lounge (commercially important persons), as they can rest in the lounge while their passports and luggage are processed through the customs and immigration formalities.
Oman Air no longer accepts cash for payment of ground handling services charges. Charges must be settled by credit card, advance payment or on a credit basis for qualified customers.
Oman Air requires the signature of a Service Agreement (SA) for every aircraft they handle, even if it is a single operation. The agreement must be signed with the aircraft operator itself. The main purpose of the agreement is to limit the liability of the handling company while providing handling services to the aircraft.
Three fuel suppliers sell aviation fuel in Oman: Shell Oman, Oman Oil Marketing Company in a joint venture with Air BP, and Al Maha in a joint venture with Chevron. The fuel suppliers initially accept payment major fuel cards, credit cards and fuel releases from reliable fuel resellers
Oman Oil is the into-plane supplier of aviation fuel, and they have nine Jet A-1 aircraft refueling vehicles. Oman Oil is also the only supplier of Aviation Gasoline 100 LL (AVGAS) used for piston engine aircraft.
Oman has a common visa facility with the Emirate of Dubai, allowing everyone who has obtained tourist visa of Dubai, and who is from certain nationalities (more than 60 countries are on the list), to be granted a free visa to Oman for three weeks. A similar program exists between Oman and Qatar.
Passenger visas can also be arranged by local sponsor. If this is the case, then the passengers should collect their visas from Oman Air Visa Collection Counter.
Crew from any nationality normally receive a visa upon arrival for 120 hours. Needless to say that they must be in uniform and hold valid crew ID cards.
Oman has many good hotels in the city and on the beaches. There are many international major chain hotels in Muscat, including: Crowne Plaza, Radission Blu, Ritz Carlton, Intercontinental, Grand Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Ibiz and Ramada.
One of the great resorts in Oman is Shangri La Bar Al Jissah Resort and Spa. It’s almost 20 to 25 minutes’ drive from the airport, but once you’re there you are in a whole new world of amazing design, exceptional swimming pools and beaches, and delicious restaurants. The resort is on the Sea of Oman with its deep turquoise blue water, with majestic mountains rising behind the resort.
In Salalah, Hilton and Rotana are great resorts to stay in, and they are near to the airport, 15 minutes and 25 minutes’ drive away respectively. Marriott Resort in Mirbat is amazing, but it’s a 1-hour drive from the OOSA.
Oman is a safe, stable and calm country. Very rarely do security incidents occur, so in general there are no security concerns while being there. However, because of the language barriers, it’s recommended to rely on prearranged chauffeured transportation in coordination with your hotel or local handler.
Oman Air is the only aviation inflight catering provider for all in-flight meals in Muscat OOMS. They also offer full laundering and dry cleaning services in their modern facility. There is no catering provider in Salalah OOSA, so catering there is provided from five star hotels.
The Omani people are welcoming, warm and well-educated people, and Oman is a country that has a special charm and beauty. It’s a country you will never get bored of visiting again and again. Although the aviation operations infrastructure is still subject to renovation, with the service and hospitality culture of the Omani people, the operations experience is extremely enjoyable and most rewarding.
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