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History of Oman Aviation

The History of Oman Aviation

Beit Al Falaj Airport

Beit Al Falaj Airport dates to 1929 when the runaway was simply a dirt airstrip used as a military ground and by Petroleum Development Oman Company airplanes to fly from Muscat to the oil exploration fields in Fahud, Qarn Al Alam and other locations.

Bait Al Falaj Airport was the first airport in Oman, fitted with limited equipment and facilities to serve as a civil airport. It had a communication centre, customs office, asphalt parking for aircraft and a maintenance shed. With these modest facilities, the airport was able to play a small part in the advancement of civil aviation in Oman.

In the 1960s, Gulf Air started using the airport for its DC3 aircraft. With the advent of the seventies, Pakistani and British Airlines commenced operation in Oman with semi regular passenger flights. Although Bait Al Falaj Airport was mainly used for military purposes and to serving a few civilian flights, takeoffs and landings were fraught with dangers due to the narrow landing strip and high mountains and hills around the airport area.
Bait Al Falaj Airport is now just a memory, and the site of the airfield is now the center of modern commercial and residential buildings.

Seeb International Airport

Oman has been steadily expanding since 1970, when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said came to power and introduced a program of economic reforms, boosting spending on health, education and welfare. Recognizing the need for a new airport to support the anticipated growth in passenger and cargo movements, a contract was placed by the government in September 1970 for the construction of Seeb Airport, now Muscat International Airport.

Situated 32 kilometers approximately to the west of Muscat city, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, it was officially inaugurated on 23rd December 1973. A year later, as proof of the airport's potential to support the fastest aircraft, Concorde landed at the airport, in a visit to the Sultanate during its experimental flight.

By the end of the first year, approximately 87,200 passengers passed through the airport. Moreover, the airport handled 4.7 million passengers in 2006. This remarkable growth was one of the primary reasons for the airport’s expansion to accommodate the increasing growth of the tourism and business sectors.

In 1983, the airport witnessed major expansions in the arrival and departure terminals and a new transit hall that included several duty-free shops was built at the airport. The current cargo terminal was completed in 1991 to include modern facilities similar to on par with the facilities at other international airports.

A consortium comprising British Airport Authority (BAA), Bahwan Trading Company, and ABB Equity Ventures was given a 25-year concession in January 2002 to run, operate and develop Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport, as part of a plan for the privatization of the airports. As a result, Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) was formed to ensure achievement of this goal.

In November 2004, the government of the Sultanate of Oman reassumes the management and development of Seeb and Salalah Airports. However, the Omani government and OAMC partners could not reach an agreement on the financial basis for the development of the new terminal at Muscat International Airport. In fact, Oman Airports Management Company agreed to change the company’s shareholders structure.

Muscat International Airport

The name Seeb International Airport was changed to Muscat International Airport on the 1st of February 2008. The new name highlights Muscat, the city which is historically associated with the country and known world wild.

The necessary approvals for the change of the name were obtained from the International Civil Aviation Organization, hence, Muscat International Airport name will propagate globally.