Stock Hill International
Passengers at Muscat International Airport. Image Credit: Hill International

Muscat: The official circular from India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announcing the resumption of commercial international flight operations from March 27 has buoyed the travel interest once again among the Indian expats in Oman. Indian budget carriers Indigo, Spice Jet and Go Air, which had suspended their operations due to the air bubble agreement, are expected to resume operations to Oman effectively bringing the price levels down.

The current air bubble agreement, valid till March 27 this year, allows only designated carriers of India and Oman to operate flights between the two countries. Oman Air and Salam Air from Oman and Air India and Air India Express are the airlines allowed under the air bubble agreement to operate flights between Oman and India.

While Indigo has published its schedule - which is now open for booking between Muscat to Mumbai and Kochi, for travel from May 1 - other carriers’ schedules are awaited.

A ticketing staff from House of Travel, a leading travel agency in Oman, said everyone is awaiting the announcement of summer schedule of airlines like Oman Air, Spicejet and Indigo, which will be out anytime now. “We can see that many travellers now, especially those going to India, are not in any hurry to book their tickets. It is better to wait for the new schedule than book now since the announcement on resumption of commercial international flights to India has already come out.”

Discounted fares

The summer schedules of airlines that are generally published towards end March is expected to bring some discounted fares as special sale offers. Reliable sources indicate Oman’s flagship carrier Oman Air will be announcing special fares to destinations in India, among others. Oman Air’s past sale offers were attractively packaged with deep discounted offers.

Suresh Unnithan, a staff in Khimji Ramdas Corporate said, “I am sure within a week we will get the new schedule and the new ticket rates from airlines. Most of us are eagerly waiting for Indigo and Spicejet resumption. I have had a tough experience of running around for refund after booking the tickets with one of the leading airlines here. The tickets were not refunded for a year and remained in shell and when they did offer the refund finally, their bank refused to release it to me. It was a prolonged distressing battle to get my money back.”

Ajith George, General Manager of Al Khalili group, one of the largest and long-standing business group in Oman, said the removal of air bubble will surely bring much needed vigour and colour to travel economy. “India is a major market for airlines in Oman and India, which commands steady volume and demand. Most countries have a large section of their population vaccinated and people are looking forward to travel for business or pleasure.”

Indian budget carriers’ flight schedules are awaited by travel agents as well as travellers which are yet to commence flight booking and operations to Muscat. Indigo and Spicejet operate flights to many cities in India from Muscat, which are much in demand due to its affordability. Passengers can book now on Go Air, another budget carrier from India, through its website, or through its app, for travel from April 1.