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Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air

Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air

» Interview | Monday, February 11, 2013 • Air News Times
What are the three main concerns your airline, Oman Air, will face within the next  24 months?

Number one will be getting ready for the introduction of  our 6 new Boeing 787s  and the  additional 6 new B737 aircraft. We have also just taken delivery of 2 wet lease B737 aircraft. Our second principle focus area is preparing for the new terminal at Muscat International Airport that will be completed by the end of 2014. The third is continual improvemnet of the airline’s profitability.

Have the latest problems of 787s created any concerns for the delivery date or for the delivery itself?
 

Boeing is a highly reputed company and we feel comfortable that all problems will be resolved.

What are the two or three things your airline hopes will dazzle the customers/passengers?

Consistency of service, is our real focus in this field; We continue to focus on how to improve on that; an example of this is our continual focus on OTP. We are also improving our hard product offering; A new lounge at Muscat for Frequent Flyers and a new  First and Business class check in dedicated lounge. After all we were the first airline worldwide to introduce full inflight connectivity on our Airbus fleet in March 2010.
We are also developing our social media skills as it provides us instant feedback on customer’s feedback and requirements.

What the focus markets for Oman Air?

Our main markets would be  the  Indian subcontinent 1, Europe and Saudi Arabia. Of course, the premium market of all is our own market, it is our biggest source market, it is our number one focus market, our originating market,

You are based in the Gulf area which is dominated by Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad. Do you compete with them, do you believe you can cooperate closely with them as we have seen for example Etihad proceeding to many cooperation agreements, Emirates moving closely with Qantas, Qatar Airways will soon be member if the “One World” alliance?  And to combine this question with the next one, is it within your plans to join one of the three alliances or do you intend to proceed on a bilateral code share agreement with other carrier’s route?

We are already focusing on bilateral, code shares and interline agreements.  We already have a code share agreement with Emirates and we just launched one with Qatar Airways as well. We are working on a number of bilateral code share agreements at the moment and we aim to develop that way rather than joining an alliance at the moment.

Do you plan to conclude agreements with non-Middle Eastern carriers, that is with European carriers, Asian or North American carriers?

Yes, we are very focused on developing that kind of agreements.

What is the percentage of connecting passengers flying with Oman Air? Do you believe that this number will increase with the opening of the new terminal?  Or do you work on attracting more people and more tourists to Oman?

Our main focus is to bring more people to and from Oman. Our goal is to encourage tourism and trade with Oman.

You just mentioned the first class and business lounge, what is the percentage of business passengers on your flights?

The current percentage of business travelers is less than 10  per cent, but it is value is a lot higher; we are really putting a great deal of focus in this area. We achieved a  40 percent growth in business class revenue last year. As I said before, with the new check in area and the separate lounge for our Golden and Silver Sindbad Frequent Flyers, it is clear that it is a very important part of our customers. We will continue to put a lot of emphasis on them.

What is the profile of these business travelers? Where do they come from? From the Middle East or from other parts of the world?

Number one area is of course Oman, that’s where Oman Air gets most part of our Business and First class passengers; but we also get a sizeable business class traffic from Europe and we are getting an increasing number out of the Indian subcontinent.

What has been the feedback from the use of mobile and wi-fi on board, which you launched quite some time ago and you have been awarded for that?
WP: We found the mobile phone and wifi capability on board has been tremendously popular, and we are receiving high scores for that. Its usage is picking up and we have found that a lot of people use texting on a regular basis, What we find is that people use that on smart phones and that type of technology, such as texting and calling using iPads and androids, including social media, constitute a very popular activity when people are gone on a trip.

Over the years have you seen this figure increase and if yes, at what percentage?

We found that in the last two years it has increased by about 15 per cent.

Returning to the issue of the Boeing 787, will this new aircraft replace the A330  fleet? Will it be used on new routes/ destinations? You mentioned before what is your focus market, but do you intend to launch any long-haul flights, that is flights to the Eastern US coast, or to more cities in Europe or to other destinations in Asia/ Pacific area?


We are seeing it as an addition to our existing fleet rather than replacing them. We are working on deployment destinations to be ready when we get these aircraft in 2015. We have two and a half years before the airplanes arrive. We are still working on our plans, we look upon them as adding to the fleet rather than replacing existing 330s.

That means that you are going to keep the A330 fleet?

Yes.

Let’s turn now to the issue of the environment. Do you plan to do any biofuel tests with your current fleet or later on? Do you envisage the possibility of using alternative fuel?

We are fully aware of the environmental aspect of our business and are focused on recent developments on alternative fuel,  but we have not got to that point yet. We have a lot of growth here, we are focused on maintaining the growth, improving our customer service, getting ready for the new aircraft and preparing for the expansion. 
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