In an interview with Muscat Daily, Mustafa al Hinai, chief executive officer of Oman Aviation Group explained the rationale behind launching the new visual identity. He said the group is working on various initiatives to promote the sultanate as a hub for logistics sector.
Oman Aviation Group is already a very well known company, what was the main purpose behind launching the new visual identity?
We are in the process of restructuring the sultanate’s aviation sector. Our intention is to project the group’s role as an enabling one for the rapid development of the country’s logistics and tourism sectors. This is in line with the target set by the authorities for Oman’s Vision 2040. To achieve the targets set in the Vision 2040 document, we have to realign our strategies and there is also a need to relook at our achievements every fifth year.
With the launch of this new visual identity, we are stating a commitment to the economic development of the country. We would like to convey this message to all the stakeholders that ‘your journey towards success begins with Oman Aviation Group’. The new brand identity shows our inner values, our commitment and our dedication with the people working in the sultanate’s aviation sector.
Last year Oman Aviation Group announced various steps to promote dedicated freight corridors across the country. How has the progress been in this direction so far?
We are working aggressively on our business strategies. We are working towards building an air cargo corridor between all the GCC countries, Africa, Asia and Europe with Oman at its centre. We started working towards this direction by inviting big integrators, and at the same time we are building a big distribution centre. Besides this, all those corridors, which we had announced earlier, require a number of bilateral agreements with other countries. We are working towards setting up bilateral trade relations between Asian countries and Oman. A parallel discussion on similar lines is also going on with the European Union, Africa and South Asian countries.
As per my knowledge, there was some progress in this direction as Oman’s aviation regulator - the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) also signed an open-sky agreement with some countries. So there are some initial successes, which we achieved by building pillars for the future growth in this direction. The first key pillar, today over 100 countries have signed various agreements with the sultanate regarding open-sky policies and our regulator is continuously working towards signing such free sky agreements with more and more countries to establish Oman as a hub for air cargo transport in the region.
Besides planning dedicated corridors, what are the other key measures the group is planning to take in its efforts to promote Oman as a logistics hub?
The second most important thing is to have a perfect landscape for the logistics sector in the country, which will boost its attractiveness in the global market. For that you need to have perfect infrastructure, right distribution and logistics centres. This year, we are going to start the first project - a logistic corridor solely dedicated for perishable goods. These types of goods require a dedicated corridor for faster processing, and we are also coming up with a fulfillment centre and market centre to support this corridor. We will also be setting up a master hub in the country by 2020. After setting up the master hub, the trade corridor would be much more active in terms of trade facilitation.
The delay in customs clearance is considered a major roadblock in promoting a country as a logistic hub around the world. How are you planning to tackle this issue?
We are working with the Royal Oman Police (ROP). They (ROP) are also working in this direction and are currently studying various proposals along with Oman Logistics Centre to facilitate faster cargo movement in and out of the country. Today, I can claim that we are in the planning stage and a number of pilot projects have been started in many places, which can be further scaled up. Our efforts have yielded some initial results as the total volumes of cargo transported through air in and out of the country increased to 223,000 tonnes last year. This is not a small achievement as we have very limited air belly facilities and that sometimes look very unattractive to many traders.
Do you have plans to expand the fleet of Oman’s flagship carrier Oman Air?
As of now, the fleet expansion has been put on hold because we are trying to reanalyse the capacity in the region. Our initial studies indicate that the region is little overstretched. I have repeatedly said that the new capacity addition will depend on the increase in linkage to new cities. This is also aligned with our tourism strategy. We are conducting lots of workshops with the Ministry of Tourism on how to align expansion and linkages with their requirements.
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