(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The Duqm Airport may become operational with a soft launch later this year ahead of full-fledged commercial operations in 2016. Lee Chee Khian, CEO, Special Economic Zone Authority in Duqm (SEZAD), has been quoted in the first SEZAD annual bulletin as saying that the construction of the new airport has made significant headway.
''While package one and two, which includes site preparation works, runway construction and utilities are almost complete, a tender was recently floated for the third and final package for the construction of a terminal building and air traffic control tower.''
The contract for Package Three is likely to be awarded soon. Pending completion of the airport terminal, the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) is working to prepare the facility for early operations sometime during the third or fourth quarter of 2014,' stated the bulletin.
A temporary terminal building is proposed to be established to process arriving and departing passengers until the construction of permanent structure paves way for full-fledged operations.
The operation and management of Duqm Airport will be handled by Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC).
Vic Allen, acting CEO, OAMC, was quoted in the bulletin as saying, ''While new Muscat and Salalah airports are still some time away from completion, OAMC anticipates a role for it in the early phase start up of Sohar and Duqm airports.
''Both the facilities are expected to be ready for full-fledged commercial operations during 2016-17, but with the runways at both the locations suitably tested, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and PACA are actively exploring the potential to offer temporary services before the end of this year.''
Working in close cooperation with SEZAD, OAMC is currently operating an airfield that belongs to ROP at Jaaluni, about 40km from Duqm SEZ. ''At least 29 OAMC employees have been attached to the Jaaluni Airport, from where only narrow-body aircraft can operate to and from Muscat. This number will be ramped up to 45 when the new airport is fully operational,'' Allen said.
Duqm Airport will have a capacity to handle 250,000 passengers per annum once it becomes operational. Furthermore, given the airport's proximity to the SEZ, the ship repair yard of Oman Drydock Company, and other current and future mega installations, a dedicated air cargo services terminal is planned with a capacity to handle 50,000 tonnes of air freight per an