History of Oman Aviation

The History of Oman’s Aviation

Beit Al Falaj Airport

Beit Al Falaj Airport dates back to 1929 when the runway 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 included a telecommunication center, customs office, asphalt-paved parking for aircraft and a maintenance shed, in addition to these low-key facilities, the airport was able to play a minor role in the advancement of civil aviation in Oman.

In the 1960s, Gulf Air started using the airport for its DC3 aircraft. At the beginning of the seventies, Pakistani and British Airlines commenced operations in Oman with semi-regular passenger flights. Although Bait Al Falaj Airport was mainly used for military purposes and for 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 just a memory now, and the site of the airfield is now the center of modern commercial and residential buildings.

Seeb International Airport

Oman has been consistently expanding since 1970, when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said acceded to the throne 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 to build Seeb Airport, now known as Muscat International Airport.

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

By the end of the first year, approximately 87,200 passengers flew into and out of the airport. Moreover, the airport served 4.7 million passengers in 2006. This remarkable growth was one of the primary reasons behind the airport’s expansion in accommodating 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 with modern facilities comparable to those at other international airports at the time.

As of January 2002, Oman Airport Management Company was established as a consortium between the British Airports Authority, Bahwan Trading Company and ABB Equity Ventures, to manage and develop Muscat International Airports and Salalah, as part of a 25-year concession agreement as part of the airport privatization plan.

In November 2004, the government of the Sultanate of Oman reassumed the management and development of Seeb and Salalah Airports. However, the Omani government and OAMC partners failed to reach an agreement on the financial basis for the development of the new terminal at Muscat International Airport. Oman Airport Management has been, therefore, retained with the approval to change the structure of the company's shareholders.

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 – a city associated with the history of the country that is also known worldwide.

Approvals for the name change have been obtained by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and Muscat International Airport is now internationally known.