Oman Air plans daily flights from Dhaka
Currently, Oman Air runs three flights a week from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka
Oman Air plans to start running daily flights from Dhaka to serve the growing number of passengers from the country as the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital is set to make its new terminal operational, said Sunil V A, regional vice-president of the airline.
Currently, the national airline of the Middle Eastern country runs three flights a week from the HSIA, the largest airport in Bangladesh.
"We want to fly daily from Dhaka," said Sunil in an interview with The Daily Star on the sidelines of an event in Chattogram recently.
At present, the airline operates seven flights a week from the Shah Amanat International Airport located in the port city of Chattogram.
Sunil said the runway of a new terminal at the HSIA is under construction.
"We are hoping that the airport will fully open up by June and we will get slots and operate daily flights from there."
The company's major target is Oman-Muscat bound passengers. There are already a lot of people from the Chattogram region living and working in the Middle Eastern country.
It caters around 70 per cent of passengers from Chattogram bound for Oman while it is 40 per cent from Dhaka and other parts of the country.
For the flights from Chattogram, the company is going to shift from narrow-body planes to wide-body aircraft, depending on demand. Currently, it runs flights with Boeing 737 narrow-body aircraft.
"We also operated Dreamliner in the past when demand picked up," Sunil said, referring to Boeing's wide-body jet airliner.
He pointed out that the overall business is getting bigger in Bangladesh.
There are lots of developments going on in the country. New terminals are coming up. A number of key infrastructure projects in Dhaka and Chattogram would be ready by 2023.
"I am happy to see the metro rail in Dhaka. I heard that a few more hotels are coming up in the airport area in Chattogram, so all of them will really help."
Sunil sees a huge business opportunity in the fast-growing country.
"Lots of foreigners and workers are coming to the port city and lots of expatriates will come to live here."
Oman Air looks to diversify in Bangladesh as it is a growing market.
"We have a very strong network in Europe and the Middle East. Our vision is to grow with the city of Chattogram," said the senior official.
Sunil admitted that the airline industry went through tough times in the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic as international travels were mostly suspended during the period.
"When the pandemic hit, we had certain issues with our aircraft because lots of people were travelling from Oman to Chattogram and we were not able to manage aircraft at that time properly."
"Because of lockdowns and no flights, we had 85 per cent of our flights suspended. It was really a tough time as we had to keep paying the bills and salaries."
The industry is rebounding, riding on receding coronavirus caseloads and reopening of international borders.
"The fare will reflect the reality very soon and the passengers will be able to pay the fare they used to pay in the past," said Sunil.
When asked why people choose Oman Air, Sunil said, "We are quite known for our quality service. As Oman is very good at hospitality, passengers feel very comfortable travelling with the airline."
"We have full service so passengers get the complete experience of the product at a very reasonable price. We are trying to strike a balance so that we can keep providing quality service to customers."
In Bangladesh, Oman Air's country agent is Galaxy Travel International.
Speaking at the event in Chattogram, Galaxy President and CEO Ahmed Yusuf Walid said, "Most of the passengers choose Oman Air as we are operating regular flights from Chattogram. We want to retain their trust."
Airport sources say there are 18 flights from the Shah Amanat International Airport every week that are bound for Muscat, the capital of Oman.
Of the flights, Oman Air runs the highest number of flights. Besides, five flights are operated by SalamAir, also an airline of Oman, and three each by Bangladesh Biman and US-Bangla Airlines.
Jahidul Hasan, senior sales manager of Oman Air, Asif Chowdhury, in-charge of the Chattogram office of the airline, and Wing Commander M Farhad Hossain Khan, director of the Shah Amanat International Airport, were present at the event.