Oman- Premature to question Sohar Airport viability, says MoTC
(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Muscat-
The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has said that that it is premature to judge the viability of Sohar Airport.
There has been an uproar on social media about the viability of the airport project after Oman Air announced last week that it is temporarily suspending operations to Sohar. The ministry confirmed in a statement to Oman TV that while the expansions works are still on, it was too early to question Sohar Airport''s feasibility. ''It would be premature to judge the feasibility of the Sohar Airport. Work at the airport is still going on and so is coordination with international airlines to fly to Sohar,'' the ministry said. The ministry also denied that the Sohar Airport project will cost RO400mn as was claimed by some media reports (which also caused a furore on social media). MoTC said that the first and second phases of the airport cost RO63mn while the third phase will cost RO36mn which is still ongoing. The first and second phases were completed in 2014 after which Oman Air started its services in November 2014. The first phase saw the construction of 30km of airport service roads and parking facilities, rainwater protection system and security fencing. Other works undertaken in phase one included power plants, a wastewater treatment plant, pumping stations, communications network and the fire safety system. The second phase package entailed the construction of airfield infrastructure, including a 4km-long runway, along with the terminal building aprons. Larsen & Toubro (Oman) was awarded the RO36mn third phase contract late last year. The scope of work includes the construction of a passenger terminal building, as well as a dedicated cargo terminal building capable of handling around 50,000 tonnes of air freight per annum. Other works include an air traffic control complex and other service buildings, including mechanical, electrical and plumbing works, special systems and external works. Oman Air decided to suspend the flights as they did not achieve profitability. ''There are economic standards and criteria that define any route''s strength, continuity or permanent/temporary suspension. In this regard, Oman Air held numerous meetings with the companies and travel agencies at Sohar on periodic bases, where they were offered special passenger fares along with other privileges so as to promote flights and support connectivity of the route from Sohar to Oman Air''s global network. However, no economic return or impact has been derived for those initiatives, despite the economic challenges the company and country are currently facing,'' Oman Air stated.