Muscat: National carrier Oman Air will fly larger capacity planes to Doha after some countries suspended flights to Qatar.
The airline is upping capacity on the route and helping by organising extra charter flights.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, a senior official of Oman Air said: “Oman Air is upgrading its flights to bigger aircraft with more capacity from June 8 until June 14.”
Additionally Oman Air has dedicated three charter flights to Qatar Airways to operate sectors Muscat/Jeddah/Muscat from Tuesday. Qatar Airways said that its operations are running as normal.
“Qatar Airways operations are running as normal with no disruptions in flights with the exception of those to the four countries Qatar Airways has been restricted to fly to. “In response to these restrictions Qatar Airways has arranged for three chartered flights departing Jeddah on Tuesday at 16.00, 22.00, and 23.00 local time, to Muscat to assist stranded Qatari passengers make their way to King Abdulaziz International Airport to avail these flights,” according to a statement from Qatar Airways.
A connecting Qatar Airways flight will then transport passengers onwards from Muscat, Oman, to Doha, Qatar.
Passengers are advised to report directly to King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, three hours prior to the flight times above in order to be registered and accepted on the flight.
Travel agents said the flights are being operated to bring back nationals to their home countries. “It may be Saudis who are stuck in Qatar or it may be Qataris who are stranded in Saudi Arabia,” a travel agent in Muscat said.
The official also said travel time between Qatar and Muscat may increase with some GCC countries closing their airspace for flights from Qatar. “Some flights are now taking two hours to reach Doha from Muscat,” a leading travel agent in Muscat said.
Another flight which took off from Muscat for Doha took a loop before the Emirati border before being diverted back to Muscat on Tuesday. The normal flying time between Muscat and Doha is 1 hour 30 minutes.
“We have started briefing our customers who are flying beyond Doha and have shorter connections in Doha,” a travel agent said.
Oman Air and Qatar Airways fly non-stop between Muscat and Doha.
Residents, however, hope that this doesn’t mean higher airfares to Doha.
“Flying more will mean fuelling more, which in turn may lead to fares going up. I hope this doesn’t happen,” Suresh Kumar, an Indian expat living in Oman said.
The Oman Air spokesperson, however, asserted that the fare to Doha has not gone up. “No, it has not as of now,” the spokesperson added.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar, according to Oman’s national news agency.
The four countries have announced their plans to cut off all diplomatic relations, as well as close all land, sea and air ports with the state of Qatar, as per the news agencies of these countries.
The State of Qatar, on the other hand, has released a statement broadcast by the Qatar News Agency, expressing its deep regret and surprise at the decision of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain to close its borders and airspace and sever diplomatic relations.