Muscat Intl. Airport expansion delayed to 2016

The Sultanate will continue to invest in 4,500 sqkm of area around five local airports as it works to diversify into the transport and logistics sector and reduce oil dependence, even as Muscat Airport's expansion opening is delayed

The opening of Muscat International Airport's expansion has been delayed to 2016.
The opening of Muscat International Airport's expansion has been delayed to 2016.

Oman's airport operator wants to earmark a large area of land to develop aviation facilities, including a maintenance hub and free trade zones, an aviation official said.

The move comes in light of the Sultanate's aims to diversify its economy away from oil. 

Salem al-Yafaey, general manager of Salalah Airport, part of Oman Airports Management Company, also announced a further delay in the expansion of the Muscat International airport.

According to Reuters, the new passenger terminal with annual capacity of 12 million travellers at the Sultanate's main airport is now due to open by the end of 2016, about a year later than the previous estimate.

The original completion date was for early 2014 but issues such as the arrest of illegal workers and technical difficulties have caused delays, the report said. 

The airport operator proposes to set aside 4,500 sqkm near five local airports, all of which are under construction or being expanded, for long-term development of the aviation sector.

The proposal fits into Oman's bigger plan to expand the transport and logistics sector.

Yafaey told Reuters: "We want to have sustained, value-added investments that will feed revenue to the economy for the long-term." 

The proposed development plan will be presented to the board of the airports' operator by the end of October, Yafaey said.

After that, government approval will be needed and the projects will be presented to investors.

Yafaey said funding issues may delay the projects, since the government is not looking at raising debt and will invest around 40% of the project value.

"Oman is looking to private investors to stump up the remaining 60% of the investment, although officials did not release an estimate for the project's overall cost," the report added. 

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