(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman Air chief executive Wayne Pearce said he's leaving the carrier so that a successor can manage a two-year fleet upgrade that will boost capacity almost 50 per cent, and is considering new posts in the industry.
Pearce, an Australian whose departure was disclosed on February 5, will leave on February 28 with Muscat-based Oman Air poised to take 16 more aircraft including its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners through the end of 2015, he said in an interview.
Chief at the carrier since January 2012, Pearce has overseen an expansion into long-haul markets as Oman seeks to establish itself as a premium destination while maintaining short-haul links to South Asian markets. In addition to the 787-8s, the carrier has three Airbus Group A330-300 wide-bodies and 11 single-aisle 737s due in the next two years.
''These plans will be transformational for a carrier with 30 aircraft today - that's why I had to leave now,'' Pearce said by telephone from Switzerland. ''The alternative would have been to stay on for another two or three years.''
Pearce said that he's exploring his future options, with at least of a couple of positions under consideration within the airline industry or related sectors. The executive, who has worked at Etihad Airways and Qantas Airways, declined to say if he was likely to remain with a Middle Eastern company.
With eight aircraft due to retire, Oman Air's new arrivals will take the fleet to 38 planes by the end of 2015, with four more jets on order. The carrier, which took its first wide-body in 2008 after previously operating as a regional airline, is also examining further orders for A330s or Dreamliners, most likely the larger 787-9, as well as more short-haul planes.
Pearce said he envisages the aircraft on order being used to build up frequencies while adding a limited number of new destinations, though his successor ''may have other ideas.''
The carrier - which aims to build a 50-strong fleet - is also increasing the seat count by 25 per cent on the A330-300s due for delivery, while refitting planes already in service, resulting in the near 50 per cent gain in overall capacity.
Pearce said his strategy throughout has been to carve a niche for Oman Air in the point-to-point market as the country seeks to develop its tourism industry