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Oman Air is part of Oman’s total tourism package

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ITCM interview with Peter Hill, CEO of Oman Air

Under its Chief Executive Officer, Peter Hill, Oman Air has gained a reputation of quality and reliability with the finest service. Peter, an Englishman whose 50-year airline career goes back to BA when it was still BOAC, has had unrivalled experience in the Middle East airline sector.
Now, having been persuaded to stay at Oman Air three years rather than the two years he originally intended, he is about to retire and he can look back on what Oman Air has achieved in that short time.
‘I was one of six people who set up Emirates’, he points out. ‘And when I was asked to come to Oman Air three years ago’, he continues, ‘I had long discussions with the Oman Government to agree exactly what we could do and what we couldn’t do. We all agreed that competition in the area was very strong and that we had to create something that was unique to Oman. We had to carve our own niche and be the best in what we chose to do’.

An important plank of Peter’s approach has been to see Oman Air not simply in isolation as an airline, but as part of the total integrated image and development of Oman as a whole.

‘Oman has seen that the airline feeds business and revenue into every sector of the nation’, he emphasises. ‘With more visitors, the hotels prosper, that brings in more investors in the tourism industry and that again spreads benefits amongst the providers of food, services and gifts.

‘Oman Air is part of the total national offering, which includes the beautiful new Royal Opera House opening in September 2011 – and the 5,000-seat, billion-dollar Convention Centre currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2014.’

Three years ago Oman Air was very much a Middle East regional network. It is now global with a growing number of long-haul routes. ‘Muscat is a hub for flights in and out of Europe, Asia and Africa’, Peter is proud to point out. ‘There are daily flights out of Heathrow and frequent services from Paris, Frankfurt, Munich and Milan, with Zurich and Moscow coming on-stream shortly.

We have a modern fleet of seven Airbus 330s and fifteen Boeing 737NGs, as well as our regional Embraer 175 jets, and we are on target to carry 4m passengers in 2011, double the 2m three years ago.’

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Oman is a very large country with a tiny population of 3m Omanis and half a million expats. More than 50% of the population is under the age of 25. Peter says that it is important for the Omani people to be able to choose to fly the flag when they travel. It is a matter of national pride and helps to maintain a valuable nationwide spirit.

Peter is able to enumerate a host of special features offered by his airline. ‘We have been at the cutting edge of many developments. Last year, we were the first to introduce inflight mobile phone and Wi-Fi connectivity. Passengers can use their laptops and their own mobile phones just as if they are in their own offices, receiving and sending calls and accessing their databases. ‘We offer five channels of live TV. You can tune in to BBC World news and stay up-to-date on what is happening. Our premium passengers eat their in-flight meals off bone china and our staff wear uniforms designed by Balenciaga.

‘Even before you get to Muscat, you are well aware that Oman is a country of cultured and hospitable people who know how to make visitors feel comfortable and welcome’.

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