Low-cost carriers greatly will benefit Oman’s economic diversification

François Bouteiller

François Bouteiller

CEO , SalamAir

Over the last twenty years, many changes in the airline industry have been powered by the ‘disruptive’ influences of low cost carriers (LCC).

Their popular budget services have opened up travel to greater numbers of people and forced legacy carriers (LC) to re-valuate their pricing structure and business models.

Despite the fact that the Middle East is one of the fastest expanding regions for the airline industry, with air traffic in Oman alone expected to grow by 40 per cent by 2019, we are currently under served by budget carriers. In my opinion, increased services from LCCs would be of tremendous benefit for the diversification of the sultanate’s economy, stimulating the creation of jobs and business opportunities particularly in the service industries.

In addition to this, making travel affordable, LCCs support the operations of small businesses, not to mention those of cost-conscious larger ones. Obviously, LCCs would be a boon for tourism, opening up the possibility of travel to people who have previously been inhibited from flying because of cost. And of course, LCCs encourage regular travellers to journey more frequently, I’m thinking here of visits to relatives and friends as well as weekend breaks. LCC generally have a positive factor on the market stimulation and increases its size rather than cannibalising it from incumbent operators.

As well as catering to growing demand on popular routes, there is tremendous potential in the region for LCCs meeting the needs of under-served destinations, for example in East Africa. This is certainly something that SalamAir has every intention of addressing. The importance of technology obviously has to be mentioned. Its use in streamlining services, such as booking and check-in, is ever more important in reducing operating costs and maintaining healthy profit margins. SalamAir’s Wi-Fi based in-flight entertainment is a good example of this, cutting the need for costly screens and headsets, as all shows and music are downloaded to customers’ personal devices.

As a final note, I would like to emphasis that SalamAir itself is an innovation in the budget sector, offering a whole new high-quality, low cost operational model that gives passengers the choice and flexibility to create their perfect journey.

Low-cost carriers greatly will benefit Oman’s economic diversification
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