Aug 16 2012
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Cargo terminals planned
MUSCAT -- One of the last major packages in the multi-billion-dollar expansion and modernisation of the Muscat and Salalah international airports was floated by the Tender Board, on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, yesterday. The much-awaited MC-12 package will pave the way for the construction of world-class Air Cargo Terminals and Aircraft Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hangars at the two international gateways.
Along with the centrepiece passenger terminals, state-of-the-art check-in and baggage handling systems, and high-tech air traffic management system, the air cargo terminals and aircraft hangars will underpin the Sultanate's long-term aspirations to emerge as a major aviation hub in the region. At Muscat, the new cargo complex will cover an area of 34,000 sq metres and will be designed for an annual capacity of 260,000 tonnes of freight in the first phase, with the option to ramp up capacity to 500,000 tonnes in the second phase. The facility will include 19,000 sq metres of temperature controlled space, and 2,200 sq metres of dedicated space for live animals. Airfreight volumes will be processed semi-automatically, in contrast to the manual process employed in the existing terminal.
At Salalah International Airport , the government is investing in a 100,000 tonnes per year air-cargo terminal, which will similarly be equipped to process airfreight semi-automatically. While the new air cargo terminals will undoubtedly make a notable contribution to Oman's overall aviation business, it is the aircraft hangar projects that hold out significant potential in propelling the sector forward, experts say. Designed to world-class standards, the Aircraft Maintenance-Repair-Overhaul (MRO) complex in Muscat, for instance, will be equipped to handle a wide range of aircraft fleets presently calling, or due to call in the future, at the international gateway. The facility will be capable of simultaneously accommodating multiple wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, including some of the biggest civilian aircraft in service today.
The new MRO complex will consist of a combination of wide-body Code F hangars, a two-position Code C hangar, Ground Run-up Enclosure (GRE), technical shops, offices, central utility plant, and various ancillary buildings. State of the art systems including aircraft wing and tail maintenance docks, overhead cranes, and AS/RS for parts storage will be included in the facility.
Importantly, the modern aircraft maintenance hangars will help support the growth of a strong domestic aeronautical industry, it is pointed out. In addition to facilitating the inflow of technical know-how, the hangars are expected to generate hundreds of highly specialised jobs for Omanis. Moreover, with national carrier Oman Air expanding and diversifying its aircraft fleet, a comprehensive indigenous aircraft maintenance capability is seen as indispensable.
Equally, these aircraft hangar investments are expected to promote an influx of new airline customers attracted by the synergies and cost savings available to them if they choose the Muscat gateway for their hub operations and aircraft maintenance services. Plans for MRO facilities at Salalah are comparatively modest in scope centring primarily on a single code F hangar bay, it is learnt. A contract for the design and construction of the air cargo terminals and MRO hangars is expected by year's end or early in 2013.
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