The new passenger terminal at the Muscat International Airport, which opened on March 20. Image Credit: Photo-Supplied

Muscat: Oman’s new Muscat International Airport officially opened on Tuesday, March 20, an official statement from authorities said.

The first flight departed at 6:50pm while the first arrival is slated for 5:30pm.

The last flight will take off from the current airport at around 3:00pm, according to senior officials.

Ahead of the grand opening, a number of trial flights have been carried out, beginning on March 15.

40 flights per hour

The new airport has the capacity to operate 40 flights per hour with 86 check-in counters, 40 gates, and 29 aircraft stands with jet-bridges, as well as a new control tower.

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Out of ten carousels for bag handling, eight will be used for international flights.

The decision to build a new airport was taken as research projected a 40 per cent increase in Oman’s number of visitors by 2019.

Planning for the new $1.8-billion airport has spanned more than a decade but the first phase of construction began in December 2014, including a new runway, air traffic control tower and civil aviation building.

The grand opening marks the completion of the first phase of expansion which increases passenger capacity to 12 million — up from the previous 1.2 million passengers recorded in 2017.

The airport will undergo further upgrades in three consecutive phases which aims to boost the number of passengers to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers respectively.

Presently the Muscat International Airport is ranked in the top 10 airports in the Middle East, with an average annual growth forcast of 8 per cent.

- Nickyta Ray is a freelance journalist based in Muscat