The Sultanate of Oman Celebrated International Civil Aviation Day on 7 December at Muscat International Airport—A Place of Pride and Honour for the Sultanate at the Regional
Under the theme ‘Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind’, the Sultanate, represented by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), participated in the celebration of International Civil Aviation Day, which occurs annually on 7 December. The theme was adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for 2015 through the end of 2018. The purpose of this day is to help promote global awareness of the importance to the world’s social and economic development of international civil aviation.
On this occasion, HE Dr. Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Zaabi, Chief Executive Officer of PACA, emphasised the role played by the Sultanate, as represented by PACA, under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in achieving the development goals set by the ICAO toward improving civil aviation at the regional and international levels. He added that PACA is keen to support the strategies and approaches of the organisation in the areas of civil aviation safety and security, environmental protection, and sustainable development of air transport. To ensure the acceleration of future national economic growth and investment in various sectors and facilities and to make Oman a pioneer in the civil aviation industry, PACA is committed to reaching the highest levels of productivity using the existing infrastructure and by equipping the industry with advanced facilities, modern technologies, and qualified national cadres. In this way, PACA intends to be a strong supporter of the development role played by the different economic sectors within the Sultanate.
HE proclaimed that the introduction of the new terminal at the Muscat International Airport in March 2018 was a major achievement, one that was internationally recognised when the airport won the World’s Leading New Airport award at the 2018 World Travel Awards hosted in Lisbon, Portugal. This achievement and others are sources of pride and honour that put Oman at the forefront of global competition in aviation security and safety, environmental protection, and infrastructure for civil aviation and air services. Muscat International Airport is one of the largest and most beautiful airports in the region and the world. It was designed and built to the highest specifications and service standards for an ideal airport according to the classification approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Moreover, the Omani civil aviation sector has been recognised internationally with certifications from leading organisations in the fields of civil aviation, navigation, and meteorology.
To implement its strategy of global leadership and legislative excellence and optimally serve the civil aviation sector in Oman, PACA adopted the Muscat Declaration. This document included several decisions and projects that were shared during the fourth meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation in the Middle East hosted by the Sultanate in 2017, which included Dr Fang Liu, Secretary General of the ICAO along with related delegations and organisations. The strategy of ‘Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind’ for the Middle East was adopted as part of this Declaration. It also encouraged and urged individual states and relevant partners to provide the necessary support and resources for the strategy’s implementation. This strategy is expected to have a positive impact on the future of civil aviation in the region and increase the effectiveness of its employment of the standards and practices recommended by the ICAO. Further, its goal is to strengthen participation and cooperation to serve the civil aviation sector at the regional and global levels.
With unique and diverse features embodying both ancient and modern civilisation, Muscat International Airport has a total capacity of 20 million passengers per year in its first phase, with the planned capability of accommodating 56 million passengers annually in its later stages. The airport runway is 4 kilometres in length and 75 metres wide, and it accommodates all types of aircraft, including large aircraft. The capacity of the air cargo building reaches 350 thousand tons per year and can increase to 500 thousand tons per year in its later stages. In keeping with the steady growth in passenger numbers and meeting the demands of this increase, the airport has ten conveyor belts and 118 desks. The air traffic control tower is equipped with the best and latest technology and systems in the world to increase the efficiency of response and improve the quality of safety services in Oman’s airspace, following international standards. The height of the tower is 103 metres.
The most recent statistics predict continued growth of the air traffic at Muscat International Airport, where the flight movement from the beginning of 2018 through November was 117,762 aircraft, representing an increase of 4% compared to the same period last year. The passenger movement at Muscat International Airport since the beginning of the year through the end of October reached 12,696,362, an increase of 9% over last year. Also, 176,123 tons of freight were moved through the airport between the beginning of this year and the end of October, which was an increase of 8% compared to the same period in 2017.
In order to protect the environment, the PACA has started to effectively work to solving the problem of noise that caused by the aircraft which uses Muscat International Airport. The implemented procedures aim to make the civil aviation environment in the Sultanate up to date with the latest technologies and developments to ensure high efficiency which are the best long-term solutions that provide a safe and non-polluting aviation environment. These procedures also are compatible with the strategies and standards developed by ICAO to reduce pollution and emissions from air traffic.
Also, the PACA has restructured the Omani airspace and inaugurated the sixth air sector to cope with the increase in air traffic. Moreover, to make Omani airspace a broad, safe area and a gateway for international flights in general. This expansion aimed at keeping pace with the activity of the air traffic movement due to its the rapid growth regarding the number of aircraft passing the Sultanate's airspace on a daily basis. PACA is planning to raise the capacity of the Omani sky, where Eastern Sector had restructured, and the work is ongoing to add a seventh sector in the next few months.
Since the air traffic in the eastern sector, linking the airspace of Omani with India is very dense, beside PACA's plan to raise the capacity of the Omani sky, the Eastern Sector had restructured, and the work is ongoing to add a seventh sector in the next few months.
Salalah Airport also witnessed the opening and operation of the air navigation radar, which is part of the infrastructure development projects in the aviation sector in general and the development of navigation services, in particular, to cope with the rapid growth of air traffic in the region. Besides, to improving the quality of services related to aviation security and safety through the strategy of the PACA in the management of air traffic in the Sultanate and raising its efficiency. The cost of this project exceeded 5 million OMR.
This radar works to secure the inspection as an essential component of safe and effective air traffic control services specifically in the southern sector of the Omani airspace and the approach area of Salalah Airport by connecting it with a series of distributed radars across the Sultanate. Thus, to cover all other navigation sectors and to provide information related to air navigation services and flight operations within the Sultanate and to achieve Air safety. The project includes technical control areas, radars, workshops, and a power supply unit. The tower is 40 meters high and equipped with radar and navigational devices.
Duqm Airport is another addition to the aviation sector. It supports investment projects in the Duqm Economic Zone, and it is an engine for tourism movement. Since the beginning of the year to the end of November 2018, the air traffic increased by 38% compared to the same period last year with a total of 981 flights. Also, the growth rate at Sohar Airport has also increased since it opened for flights in 2017, with total aircraft movements of 4568 until the end of November 2018.
According to statistics released by ICAO, at least 4.1 billion passengers and 56 million tons of freight were transported on 37 million commercial flights last year. In light of this enormous volume of traffic, it generates more than 65 million jobs worldwide and more than $2.7 trillion to world GDP. To take advantage of this growth and improve it for partners and the local population, it is imperative that governments raise their compliance with ICAO in line with global standards. Also, Governments and decision-makers need to continue supporting the principles of open borders and free trade, ensuring that air transport connects and promotes understanding between all peoples and provides new opportunities for travel and business.
Here the goal comes from a slogan for No Country is Left Behind, so that encourages the most advanced countries to provide assistance to developing countries, safe and rapid access to international suppliers and trade routes, and make the future brighter and with more sustainable local opportunities, which contributes to the formation of global organized and unified aviation.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the ICAO, all friendly countries, my colleagues in the PACA, all partners in the civil aviation sector in the Sultanate, and the public around the world on the occasion of the International Civil Aviation Day. This day is critical in raising awareness of the potential of the international civil aviation sector to promote understanding and good relations between the countries around the world and peoples, to ensure sustainable development, economic and social prosperity and to achieve the desired benefit of the initiative "No Country is Left Behind."