Oman Air says will invest in Indian carrier if given ‘unrestricted’ flying rights


Mumbai : Taking a leaf out of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad's book, another big Gulf carrier, Oman Air, has made it clear it will consider investing in an Indian carrier if given additional – or unrestricted – flying rights to the country. Three years back, Etihad had picked up 24% stake in Jet Airways for $379 million, hours after India enhanced Abu Dhabi's flying rights from 13,300 seats per week to 50,000 by 2016 in a phased manner.

The airline at present operates to 11 destinations in India, which is among the fastest growing market in the world. The carrier, which has been running on government funds since its inception in 1993, will soon cease to get subsidises as the oil producing countries in the Middle East region are cutting their expenditure after the glut-induced crash in the oil market.

Last year, Oman's bilaterals were raised from 15,000 seats per week to 21,000. But even with this number we are unable to make a significant contribution to India's economy. Also, our entitlements are much less compared to other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members. Emirates has 66,000 seats a week, Etihad over 50,000 and Qatar 24,000," Oman Air CEO Paul Gregorowitch said.

"With our current bilaterals, we are unable to operate wide body aircraft to India. We have 126 flights a week to 11 destinations in India and all are operated on the single aisle Boeing 737. We want to go up to 175 weekly flights that will require at least 29,000 weekly seats," he said. Gregorowitch said Oman will begin talks with India for more bilaterals in August. "We need 29,000 weekly seats or open skies with India. If that happens, it will make sense for us to invest in an Indian carrier," the CEO said.