Oman Air Begins To Ramp Up Its Boeing 737 MAX Operations

In its latest schedule update, Oman Air added many more B737 MAX 8 flights. It now has over twice as many services planned in April – the first full month of the aviation summer season – as February. The carrier, presently the Middle East’s 16th-largest by flights, will have eight MAX routes in March. That will reduce to six in April, but they’ll be more frequently served.

This specific aircraft (A4O-ME) was delivered in October 2018. Its last flight was from Salalah to Muscat, arriving in the small hours of February 1st. Photo: Getty Images.

What’s happening?

Oman Air has 274 flights using the B737 MAX 8 this month, according to its schedule submission to OAG. A further 100 flights are planned for March (+44%) and 299 more in April (+131% on February’s numbers). In April, the MAX will operate about one in every five Oman Air departures from its Muscat hub.

The carrier has eight B737 MAX 8s, each with 162 seats: 12 in business and 150 in economy. It has twice as many MAXs as Ethiopian Airlines, with its the type’s first commercial flight after its reintroduction on February 2nd. The type is now Oman Air’s third most common subfleet, behind only the B737-800 (15). Its first example arrived in January 2018, and the most recent three were in July/August 2021.

In February, Oman Air primarily uses its MAXs domestically from Muscat to Salalah and Duqm, the latter about an hour away. They are also deployed to Istanbul and infrequently (just four departures in the month) to Delhi and Riyadh. Things start to change in March.

Oman Air's use of the B737 MAX 8
Notice the lack of progress from December to February, driven by Omicron. It’s a similar story to Lufthansa and many others. Source of data: OAG.

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Oman Air’s MAX flights in March and April

The Middle East airline’s MAX network will rise from five to eight in March, with the addition of Bahrain (beginning on March 27th), Chennai (March 27th;), and Dubai (March 27th). The year’s third month will have up to 10 daily MAX departures.

April will also have up to 10 outbound flights, just achieved more often. April is an intriguing month. While Oman Air’s network will reduce to six from the loss of Delhi and Riyadh and no additions (when writing), the routes that will be served by the MAX will have more flights. On April 4th, the following will depart from Muscat:

  1. 01:55: Dubai
  2. 02:00: Salalah
  3. 02:10: Chennai
  4. 08:35: Dubai
  5. 12:45: Duqm
  6. 14:25: Dubai
  7. 14:35: Istanbul
  8. 14:45: Bahrain
  9. 14:50: Salalah
  10. 20:20: Salalah
Oman Air's 1st 737 MAX
Oman Air’s first MAX 8 (A4O-MA) was delivered in January 2018. Photo: Boeing.

But, things could have been higher still

Oman Air’s MAX flights were expected to be higher still. According to its schedule submission, the carrier, which is keen to enter oneworld, had intended to use the type to Jaipur, Lucknow, and Goa from March onwards.

However, the current environment means the routes are no longer available to book for the remainder of winter or through the summer. They’re now bookable from the start of the aviation winter 2022 season, although the MAX isn’t currently scheduled to be used.

Have you flown Oman Air or its MAXs? If so, share your experiences in the comments.

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