With international flights inbound and outbound from India having been banned for almost two full years, the lifting of the ban on March 27th definitely comes as a warm welcome for airlines around the world to start resuming flights to the country. One of these airlines will be Oman Air, which has already made plans for eight Indian cities – including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Kozhikode.
Oman Air will be contributing greatly to the summer schedule of Cochin International Airport Limited. Photo: Oman Air.
Return to India
As of today, the airline has bookings open for non-stop direct flights from Muscat to Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Kochi, Kozhikode, and Mumbai. All of these flights will be operated on the airline’s Boeing 737-800, with the exception of flights to Kozhikode being operated on the Boeing 737-900 instead, and flights to Mumbai being operated on the airline’s flagship Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
In fact, Oman Air will be contributing rather heavily to the summer schedule of several Indian airports, such as Cochin International Airport, which is said to have 1,190 weekly flights in its upcoming summer schedule set between March till October 29th. The airport will see at least 20 airlines operating to destinations abroad among which 16 are international carriers operating 261 weekly departures – and Oman Air is contributing 14 of such departures.
Unfortunately, there is no sign yet of any direct flights to the likes of Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Passengers wishing to travel to these two specific cities would have to fly by Oman Air to Mumbai before connecting to Bengaluru on interline partner, Vistara. Similarly for Hyderabad, passengers would have to layover in Delhi before a connecting flight on Vistara as well.
The interline partnership with Vistara allows for Oman Air passengers to connect to 27 other domestic destinations within India. Photo: Airbus
It might come as a shock that Oman Air is choosing to return to India right after its anticipated re-opening, considering that the airline is yet to make notable returns to other popular, long-reopened destinations such as Manchester – which it had served from 2017 up to 2020.
Although the reason could be because the airline does not have any codesharing partnerships with any British carrier as of right now, which could prove a slight hindrance for any plans to expand further along within the United Kingdom. In hindsight, the airline’s only entrant into the United Kingdom is through its codesharing with KLM, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways into the cities of Edinburgh, Gatwick, London, and Manchester – all through the connections of Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Doha respectively.
Oman Air does hope it will be eligible to become a Oneworld member airline. Photo: Boeing.
Being a smaller carrier in the Middle East as opposed to the big three Gulf carriers, Oman Air does rely a little heavier on codeshare and interline partnerships for growth. This is why, besides returning to India, the airline has also decided to augment its codeshare agreement with Salam Air that was signed in 2020. This is a means of further expanding the offering of outbound destinations available to guests in the Sultanate while enhancing the choice of flight options available to international guests traveling to Oman.
Commenting on the new cooperation, Eng. Abdulaziz Al Raisi, Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, said,
“This is a landmark moment for aviation in Oman and signals the start of closer alignment between Oman Air and SalamAir at a time when the sector is starting to show signs of recovery. Offering passengers more convenience and connectivity is something both airlines do well, so cooperating on strategic routes makes perfect sense for us.
Additionally, Oman Air is still hopeful of joining the oneworld Alliance by the end of 2022, but the process remains lengthy and uncertain still as the airline has to go through numerous membership stages. However, once onboarded a full-fledged airline member, the national airline plans to drop some of its codeshare agreements as it has long-term plans to expand its own network with direct flights.
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