DOHA: Oman Air is seeking additional financial assistance from the government and will raise more debt as it recovers from the pandemic, with a target of breaking even in 2024, its chief executive said.
The state-owned Gulf carrier has received government aid during the pandemic but further state support was needed to help cover next year's operational costs, Abdulaziz Al Raisi told Reuters.
He did not disclose how much support had been received so far, or how much more the airline needed.
Al Raisi, who took over as CEO in 2018 after serving in the role in an acting basis, also said the airline has raised debt against non-core aviation assets like hotels, and planned to raise more to cover operational costs.
He said that while the loss-making airline was still receiving government aid, support was at lower levels than in past years.
Oman, among the weakest countries financially in the oil-rich region, has introduced austerity measures over the past year as it looks to contain state deficits and ballooning debt.
The airline had laid off 15% to 20% of its 5,800 staff during the pandemic, Al Raisi said, though the workforce will be expanded as operations ramp in response to passenger demand.
Oman Air was currently operating about 40% of its fleet, he said, with that to increase to 60% to 70% in the first quarter.
The airline, which according to its website has a wide- and narrow-body fleet of 40 jets, expects to return to pre-pandemic passenger traffic of 9.5 million a year by 2023, by which time it also expects to have rebuilt its network of 52 destinations.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Jan Harvey) ((Alexander.Cornwell@thomsonreuters.com;))