Interview: Sheikh Aimen Al Hosni

To what extent will the drop in oil revenues place a greater strain on the development of Muscat International Airport?

SHEIKH AIMEN AL HOSNI: The decline in oil revenues has undoubtedly had an adverse impact on the world’s economies. However, global indicators show that airlines have significantly benefited from this decline, which has in turn contributed towards increased global travel demand. But compared with the rest of the world, such indicators remain relatively low in the Middle East, where many countries have adopted policies of expenditure rationalisation in order to reduce the immediate negative effects of this decline.

As for the impact of this decline on the development of Muscat International Airport, the great initiative adopted by the government under the royal directives of the sultan, to build five airports, has played a decisive role in mitigating the impacts of declining oil revenues. This support stems from the government’s belief in the importance of investment in this vital sector, which is expected to make a significant contribution to the Omani economy in both the short and long term future.

How do you balance the need to employ international expertise while utilising Omani enterprises in construction of airports?

HOSNI: Employment and training programmes have long been implemented with an eye towards reaching the targeted employment rate required for airport operation. These programmes were accompanied by several external and internal courses and workshops, and the company has set up an integrated staff training and development centre. Since the inception of OAMC, its executive management has endeavoured to develop mechanisms that will place the company at the forefront of international companies specialised in airport management and operation. To this end, the company has always attracted aviation experts from international airports in order to provide an opportunity for direct contact between them and local young employees, who will be responsible for the advancement of this emerging sector in Oman. Besides, strict performance indicators have been applied at all levels in order to both upgrade functional duties, elevating them to the international standards applied in airports worldwide, and to create a smooth work environment for all employees. The company has done its best to provide Omani staff with all required skills and capabilities, and they are now ranked among the top approved international experts. The Omanisation rate has reached 90% of the company’s workforce, which reflects the great strides made in this regard.

What bottlenecks should be addressed to further align the aviation industry with the long term logistics focus of the sultanate?

HOSNI: Oman enjoys a strategic location and it is blessed with a wise leadership that has helped to secure economic and political stability, which improves the chances of development in all sectors. The government has strong faith in this vital sector, and we shall work together with our strategic partners to ensure the consistent and smooth implementation of the plans envisaged by all concerned parties.

With the opening of this state-of-the-art airport, Oman has been ushered into the group of countries with modern airports, and it will always keep abreast of new developments so as to ensure the constant progress of the aviation industry.

We see Omani airports as gateways to our rich, deep-rooted culture, and we work in close cooperation with our strategic partners to portray a bright image of Oman and its people. The best example lies in the opening of Salalah Airport, which has boosted tourist activities and economic development in Oman.