Drones included? Just kidding, Oman signs open skies agreement with the US!
Oman is joining other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in unrestricted air travel to the United States with the signing of a new US deal.Abdul Riaq Said Saleh Al Mandhari, Director of Air Transport Department at the Oman Ministry of Transportation and Communications, confirmed to Gulf News an open skies agreement between the two countries had been signed on Thursday, December 19.The open skies agreement, which removes limitation on air services between and beyond the other’s territory by airlines from both countries, paves the way for increased aviation links between the two countries.All other GCC countries, including the UAE, already have an open skies agreement of some degree with the US.
However, the first hurdle will be launching direct flights that reportedly only see’s 49,000 passengers travel annually between the two countries.Omani national airline, Oman Air, does not currently fly to the US nor does it have aircraft capable of reaching the US without a stopover.Oman Air could not be reached for comment.Current travel options between the two countries, according to travel search engine ClearTrip.ae, are flights with one to three stop overs. US-carriers, American Airlines and United, offer services with at least one stopover, which is in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Flights by UAE-carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways from Oman can connect onwards to direct services to certain US destinations.Earlier Omani media reported that the open skies agreement was signed by US Ambassador to Oman Greta C. Holtz and Salim Bin Nasser Al Oufi, Chief Executive Officer of Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation Authority (PACA).The US Embassy in Oman did not respond to requests for comment and PACA could not be reached.Trade between the two countries is down 17 per cent to $2.19 billion in the first nine months of 2013 according to the US Census Bureau.