Traffic through Muscat International Airport is expected to increase, the growth in passenger numbers is being driven by a number of factors including fleet and route expansion by the national carrier Oman Air, the increase in capacity and frequency by existing carriers, the growth and development of the tourism and economical activity in Oman.
The number of passengers entering and leaving Muscat through Muscat International Airport excluding transfer passengers has increased by 18% during 2008 compared to 2007.
The number of arriving passengers excluding transfers has increased by 16.9% to 1,643,939 passengers during 2008 from 1,406,769 passengers for the same period last year. The number of departing passengers excluding transfers has increased by 19% to 1,523,038 passengers during 2008 from 1,281,214 passengers for the same period last year.
According to Eng. Saeed Khamis Al-Zadjali, Acting Deputy CEO of Oman Airports Management Company which manages and operates Muscat International and Salalah Airports, a number improvement projects have been initiated to deliver additional capacity to meet the expected increase in passenger traffic especially in the passenger processing areas, this is to ensure that passengers using the airport can still enjoy a comfortable and convenient experience as they arrive, depart or transfer through the airport.
A new passenger pier adjacent to the current terminal is being built to be fully operational by the beginning of the second quarter of 2009, this new pier extension will provide an additional eight new bus boarding gates each with an approximate capacity of 160 seats. The Pier will feature a provision of a wider choice of retail, food and beverage outlets, prayer rooms, bathrooms and waiting area for departing passengers combined with an excellent view of the apron which will contribute towards a significant improvement in the departing passenger experience. The new pier will provide an additional 5,800 sqm of passenger circulation and retail space at the first floor level, in total the pier will be able to accommodate 3,000 passengers.
The international baggage claim hall at arrivals is being enlarged by 30% to provide more space for passengers to pick up their baggage, one of the existing baggage belts will be extended by 100%, this will provide an additional reclaim carousel which will improve baggage offloading capacity and delivery times, this project will be completed by March 2009. Moreover, in late 2008 two new baggage belts were replaced with brand new belts in order to improve the baggage belts efficiency.
The landside departures hall and the baggage security pre X Ray queuing area are being extended by an extra 700 sqm of floor space, due for completion in mid 2009, this will provide more efficient passenger queuing space for baggage security checks and more space for family and friends to bid farewell to traveling passengers inside the terminal building.
The check-in hall at departures will also be expanded with an extra 800 sqm of floor space to provide for 20 additional check-in desks and associated queuing and circulation space, due for completion in late 2009, this will increase the capacity of the check-in hall by 30%.
New office space is being constructed for airline offices to ensure that there is adequate space and facilities for their business to grow and for new airlines to commence operations at the airport, this project will be completed by April 2009.
Muscat International Airport started implementing a new E-immigration system to serve incoming and outgoing travelers from September 2008. Travelers, both Omanis and expatriate residents who possess the civil status Identity Card (ID) or resident cards can proceed directly to the new electronic gates which automats the entry and exit process.
The E-immigration gates is an initiative by the Royal Oman Police which speeds up the immigration process, citizens and residents are no longer required to pass through immigration counters and get their passports stamped while arriving or departing at Muscat International Airport. The e-gates have been very effective in reducing queuing times for travelers.
These significant improvements to the passenger terminal building will take place in phases during 2009 with several phases already under construction. The entire program is due for completion in late 2009. The expansion works are designed to improve the existing passenger terminal building, relieve congestion at peak times and to meet the increasing passenger demand until the new terminal building is operational in late 2011.
Major renovation and refurbishment projects for Muscat International and Salalah Airports have been completed in 2008 which contributes to a more comfortable and convenient experience for travelers, some of these facilities improvement includes:
- Complete renovation and refurbishment works for 28 bathrooms in the terminal building for both airports.
- Full internal and external painting and panel decoration in the terminal building for both airports.
- Installing new carpets and replacing all handrails for Muscat International Airport.
- Installing backlit neon sign illuminated roof top signboard for departures and arrivals for both airports.
- Installation of new Oman heritage, cultural pictures at few selected areas within the terminal buildings for both airports.
- Carrying out Expansion works for smoking rooms at the passenger waiting area for both airports.
- Installing stainless steel flower pots, pedal operated large capacity liter bins.
- Carrying out full maintenance and refurbishment works at both Airport mosques.
- Construction of a new canopy for international arrivals main entrance.
- Install better laminated lighting system in the terminal building both external and internal sides including civil apron paved areas.
- Installation of Flight Information Display System at the Check-In Hall, Departures, Arrivals and welcome area for Salalah airport.
- Installed colored spot lights all along the terminal building airside and landside to better illuminate external walls of the terminal building front elevation side for both airports.
- Replaced all old existing signage boards inside and outside Salalah airport terminal building with new designs.
- Full Refurbishment of the first/business class lounge at Salalah airport.