Interview with Aimen Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company

May 10, 2018 in Transport

For the past 20 years of his professional career, Aimen Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni has been leading different organizations, holding executive positions in various sectors such as banking, telecommunications, services, and insurance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration.

Oman Airports is a government-owned company, responsible for the management and operations of the civil Airports in the Sultanate of Oman. The infrastructure of the airports such as the terminal buildings, cargo building, runway, apron, car parking and other facilities are directly under Oman Airports management.

Our vision is to be among the top-20 airports in the world by 2020. To do this, we need to excellently manage and develop our airports as gateways to Oman and beyond, working closely with our people, partners, and communities. We have three focus areas. We will continue to manage our airports to deliver an exceptional experience. We will also grow our business and impact through developing our land assets and looking for business opportunities outside of our airports’ boundaries.

Aligning with our vision, it is our pleasure to announce these strategic partnerships with our second ground handler. Two instead of one monopolized ground handling companies will bring a multitude of benefits to overall operations at Muscat International Airport. We anticipate that the competition will serve to enhance quality and reduce costs, factors that will not only benefit travellers, but also airline operators. In addition, the introduction of the second ground handler will translate into an additional 400-500 initial jobs that will be subject to legal Omanization requirements. For OAMC, it is important to be operating at maximum efficiency as we gear up for the launch of the new Muscat International Airport terminal. This will truly be a world-class gateway to the beauty and opportunity of Oman, and it is a key project within the government’s economic development strategy. The airport will also position the Sultanate as a modern and attractive hub for travellers transiting through the region. With the increased quality and efficiency as a result of two ground handling operators, Muscat International Airport will surely be in good stead to become one of the world’s leading airports as per OAMC’s 2020 transformative strategy.

With such limited facilities at the current Muscat airport, OAMC has worked extensively to break records in terms of passenger growth YoY. In 2014, Muscat International Airport hosted a total of 8 million passengers. Building on that, 2015 saw an impressive 18% increase to end the year with 10,315,358 passengers. In 2016 we broke the previous records. There are many constraints because of the limited space in the current airport, but we are pushing to get the maximum number possible. Salalah Airport has developed the tourism sector immensely. It has boosted the tourism sector in the Dhofar region and has turned it from a seasonal spot to an all-year destination. With more airlines flying directly to Salalah, Salalah has become the top destination in Oman after Muscat.

Salam Air declared the beginning of a new era in local competition for our strategic and national transportation partner Oman Air, within the Sultanate’s civil aviation sector. The inception of Salam Air, along with which has come large aspirations from the local community, serves to establish a new cornerstone in the government’s plans to develop Oman’s civil aviation sector. Salam Air will allow for further commercial competition, hinting toward the future that the civil aviation sector has been waiting for, and will serve to benefit Omanis and residents alike. In launching its commercial flights, Salam Air has taken great strides.

Oman has begun the process of devising a national economic plan to grow its non-oil sector. Logistics, among tourism and manufacturing, has been identified as one of the key priorities to develop in order to diversify the source of revenue for the country. Oman Airports plays a vital role alongside the Ministry of Transport in developing this sector. We are working accordingly with the ministry to accomplish these targets and promoting Oman as a tourism destination as well as creating opportunities in the logistics sector.

The government’s initiative of developing airports in Muscat, Salalah, Duqm, Sohar, and Ras al Hadd came in support of this vital sector and a belief in its important role in contributing to strengthening the foundations of the Sultanate’s economy by creating more opportunities for businesses, especially in the field of logistics and tourism, as well as facilitating better connectivity between Oman and the rest of the world. Airports in Oman, under OAMC, have contributed, in cooperation with our stakeholders, to meeting our targets. OAMC is now a profitable company and has contributed significantly to the government’s revenue streams.

As a government company, we will always move according to government initiatives. Our role will be significant due to the government’s decision to shift the cargo activities of the Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat to the Port of Sohar. This means that only air cargo will be received in Muscat, which is our responsibility. When the new airport is complete, we will have better cargo facilities, which will attract major players from around the world. We are also trying to align with the seaports by carrying out air-sea cargo, especially in Salalah, Duqm, and Sohar.

We believe that Oman’s airports are its gates. Therefore, we always work side by side with our stakeholders to ensure that the visitors to our beloved country or the traveller though our airports are in good hands. We have stands and kiosks at each airport operated by the Ministry of Tourism. We follow the trends of passengers and collect statistics on tourist passengers, which are often used to enhance the tourism experience in Oman.

Oman’s economic and political stability has increased the attraction of foreign investment. Its ideal location gives us the ability to sell well since we are strategically located between the east and west. With our highly trained teams and cutting-edge status in this field, in addition to the solid infrastructure, we are always facilitating this sector in a professional manner.

We are developing a 15-year plan that will be revisited every five years. We wanted it to be a 15-year plan since the aviation sector evolves so quickly and we did not want our plan to become obsolete. We are now pushing to sign a concession agreement with the government for a period of 35 years to allow us to invest in the land around the airport. This area can be utilized for various uses, such as shopping malls, hotels, and conference centers. It can be used for aviation or non-aviation related developments. Due to the development of the major airport in Muscat, the government is keen for us to carry out regular expansion plans after reaching a certain number of passengers. With the government investing heavily in the aviation sector, it will contribute to national development. The new low-cost airline will also give a push to the industry. In addition, we are planning to announce a new license for a second ground handler as well as a second maintenance and repair operator. Generally speaking, we need to provide opportunities for local and foreign investment. One of the most important factors that we continue to focus on is our human capital. We work on developing the calibre of Omani employees and also aim to export this expertise to other airports in the future.