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SalamAir charts out a definitive path for growth

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Captain Mohamed Ahmed, CEO of SalamAir

SalamAir began operations on 30 January 2017 with clear objectives to offer affordable low-cost travel and boost tourism to Oman. “The country has made significant investments in the aviation sector, one of the successful products is Oman Air and SalamAir was launched to complement an existing strong legacy carrier. As an airline, we try to lower our costs wherever we can and make it lean and clean. This benefit, in turn, is passed on to the passenger which is a more competitive rate in the market,” explained Ahmed.

 

Connectivity

With a well-structured growth plan, the airline commenced operations with flights from Salalah to Muscat. The frequency was increased during the summer with close to seven flights per day. Currently, the airline operates three flights per day from the destination. The next step was going international and connecting the airline to Dubai. The following destinations were Sohar, Jeddah, Karachi, and Sialkot. Plans have also been announced for Doha and the airline will soon fly to Shiraz and Khartoum. The company is evaluating options for connecting a few points in Bangladesh as well as Nepal. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India are key priority as the numbers from these markets are huge.

Fleet Expansion

The carrier currently uses an Airbus A320 aircraft offering 174 seats. The aircraft though modern and efficient are leased but there is a strategic plan to own aircraft in future. The fleet consists of three Airbus A320s with plans to add another three to four in 2018. Currently, the company is in talks with both aircraft manufacturers – Airbus and Boeing – to secure a total of 20 aircraft in the next five years. There is no compromise on the product with a clear focus on safety regulations and services. With this objective in mind, the airline has one crew per 50 seats which is an average of 3-4 crew per aircraft.

Brand Awareness

The airline is keen to make the right noise with an aggressive marketing campaign. The campaign will highlight not just the product but the destination as well. The target is simple – to have half a million passengers within the first year of operation. This is being achieved through a direct selling approach both with the industry and end consumer. As Ahmed says, “We do not work with any GDS at the moment but have not ruled out the possibility in future. Our strategy is to go direct and this is a well-known fact with low-cost carriers. We have our own system and sell directly to our network of travel agencies both within Oman as well as internationally.”

The Way Ahead

The airline certainly looks to work closely with Oman Air. The current synergies are usage of services such as ground handling, operation as well as technical. Going forward, plans are also being defined to work together commercially thereby enhancing the partnership.

On route expansion, the airline is currently studying several destinations to enhance connectivity as well as boost tourism into Oman. One of the key destination being considered within Oman is Duqum, apart from the current connectivity from Sohar, Salalah and Muscat. Finally, with all factors well in place, the target would be to break even in four years’ time, if all goes as per plan.

AT A GLANCE

Commenced Operations: 30 January 2017

Number of Aircraft: 3

Number of seats per aircraft: 174

Number of flights: 116

Number of destinations: 7 regular and 3 seasonal