Phase I of Muscat Airport’s International expansion project has been inaugurated, which would help flights to land and take off three times faster than before.

This expansion includes a 4km-long runway, which will be capable of taxiing an A380 Airbus, a civil aviation building and an air traffic control tower.

Public Authority of Civil Aviation (PACA) chief Mohammed bin Nasser Al Zaabi said that the new runway was capable of handling one flight every 2min as opposed to the old runway that could allow a flight to land only in 6min.

Al Zaabi was quoted by The Times of Oman as saying: "In an hour, 40 flights can land on the new runway. This will bring in more flights and boost the air traffic network.

"Passengers can have more freedom in choosing airlines and better fares."

"From Monday onwards, for five hours from 1pm to 6pm, the new runway will be functional. After 21 days, the old runway will be closed and the flights will land and take off only on new runway. The old runway will undergo refurbishment for one year. Later on, the old runway will become functional."

The PACA chief also stated that the expansion, for which approximately OMR700m ($1.82bn) had been set aside, did not exceed the allocated budget.

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The Times of Oman also quoted Renny Johnson, a top official from Mezoon Travels, which is GSA of 11 airlines in Oman as saying: "The expansion will boost interconnectivity (six freedom operations) of airlines. For example, airlines taking off from other airports outside Oman can have a stopover in Muscat while flying to their destinations.

"They can accommodate passengers from Muscat on stopovers. This can help passengers a lot. Passengers can have more freedom in choosing airlines and better fares."

Image: An aerial view of Muscat International Airport. Photo: courtesy of Muscat International Airport.