Muscat International Airport

The New Muscat International Airport project catapults Oman into the top flight of airport design and execution schemes currently occupied by the region’s leading airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. The construction of the new Muscat International Airport, also known as the Muscat International Airport Terminal, began in 2011. The first phase of the project was completed in March 2018, with the airport officially opening for operations on March 20, 2018. Opening Day, March 20, saw the first Oman Air flight depart at 3pm, with the first arrival touching down before 6pm.

The new Muscat airport, officially known as the Muscat International Airport, represents a significant infrastructure upgrade and expansion aimed at addressing several key business and economic needs:

  1. Capacity and Efficiency: The previous Muscat airport faced capacity constraints, particularly during peak travel seasons. The new airport is designed to handle a larger volume of passengers and aircraft, improving efficiency and reducing delays.
  2. Tourism and Trade: Oman, and specifically Muscat, has been focusing on diversifying its economy beyond oil. A modern airport with increased capacity can attract more tourists and facilitate smoother business travel, boosting tourism revenues and trade activities.
  3. Connectivity: The new airport enhances Oman’s connectivity with the rest of the world. Improved facilities for international and domestic flights can attract more airlines to operate from Muscat, increasing the number of direct flights and connecting routes.
  4. Cargo Handling: As part of its strategic location, Muscat aims to become a hub for air cargo in the region. The new airport likely includes upgraded cargo facilities to handle increased volumes of goods efficiently.
  5. Economic Impact: The construction and operation of the new airport create jobs and stimulate economic activity in Muscat and surrounding areas. It also supports local businesses that provide services to the airport and its passengers.
  6. Brand Image and Competitiveness: A modern, well-equipped airport enhances the overall image of Muscat as a destination and as a hub for business and tourism. This can attract investment and improve Oman’s competitiveness in the global market.

Overall, the business case for the new Muscat airport revolves around enhancing capacity, improving efficiency, boosting economic growth through tourism and trade, and positioning Muscat as a key player in the regional aviation industry.

As for the end date, the completion of the initial phase marked a significant milestone. However, like many major infrastructure projects, expansions and improvements at airports are ongoing processes to meet growing demands and enhance facilities. Therefore, while the initial phase was completed by March 2018, further developments and expansions may continue into the future to accommodate future needs and advancements in aviation technology.

The new Muscat International Airport, like any large-scale infrastructure project, faces several challenges and risks, including:

  1. Delays in approvals
  2. Construction Challenges: Complex construction projects can encounter delays and cost overruns due to issues such as geological conditions, logistical challenges, and unforeseen site-specific complications.
  3. Operational Readiness: Ensuring that all systems, including baggage handling, security, and passenger services, are fully operational and integrated before the airport opens can be a significant challenge.
  4. Capacity Management: Balancing current and future capacity demands with infrastructure development to avoid congestion and ensure smooth operations as passenger numbers grow.
  5. Technology Integration: Implementing and integrating advanced technologies, such as automated check-in systems, biometric security measures, and smart airport management systems, can pose technical challenges.
  6. Regulatory Compliance: Meeting stringent regulatory and safety standards set by international aviation authorities and local authorities to ensure the airport meets global standards.
  7. Environmental Impact: Addressing environmental concerns related to construction activities, operational emissions, and wildlife conservation in the surrounding areas.
  8. Financial Management: Managing budget constraints and ensuring that funding is effectively allocated to complete the project within the planned timeframe.
  9. Geopolitical Factors: Economic and political stability in the region can impact the funding, construction, and operation of the airport.
  10. Market Demand: Ensuring that the airport meets the evolving needs of airlines, passengers, and cargo operators in terms of routes, services, and facilities.
  11. Operational Resilience: Planning for and mitigating risks such as natural disasters, cybersecurity threats, and pandemics that could disrupt airport operations.

Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive planning, effective project management, stakeholder collaboration, and adaptive strategies to ensure the successful completion and operation of the new Muscat International Airport.

The airport project’s work is the responsibility of Ministry of Transportation and Communication, and the ministry is entrusted in managing all these projects in Sultanate of Oman. From flouting the tenders to choosing the contractors , these processes happens away from the operator of the airport, that is Oman Airports Management Company. The client of all airport projects is the Ministry of Transportation and Communication and the main project manager is ADPI Consulting Company.

The major stakeholders involved in the development and operation of the new Muscat International Airport (also known as the Oman Airport) typically include:

  • Government of Oman: The government plays a crucial role in funding, planning, and overseeing the development of the airport through its various departments and agencies, such as the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
  • Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC): OAMC is responsible for managing and operating Oman’s airports, including Muscat International Airport. They oversee day-to-day operations, maintenance, and development projects.
  • Civil Aviation Authority: The Civil Aviation Authority of Oman regulates and ensures compliance with aviation regulations and safety standards at Muscat International Airport.
  • Contractors and Construction Companies: Various construction firms, engineering consultants, and project management companies are involved in the design, construction, and expansion phases of the airport.
  • Airlines and Airport Tenants: Airlines that operate from Muscat International Airport, as well as other tenants such as retail shops, restaurants, and service providers, are stakeholders with vested interests in the airport’s facilities and services.
  • Passengers and the Public: The general public, including passengers and local communities, are stakeholders in terms of benefiting from improved airport facilities, services, and economic opportunities generated by the airport.
  • Investors and Financing Institutions: Entities that provide financing or investment for the airport’s development are also stakeholders, as they have financial interests tied to the project’s success.
  • Tourism and Trade Organizations: Organizations promoting tourism and facilitating trade in Oman are stakeholders, as Muscat International Airport plays a significant role in facilitating travel and commerce.

Each stakeholder group contributes to the overall success and development of the airport, working together to achieve operational excellence, economic growth, and enhanced connectivity for Oman and the broader region.

The project has been divided into different major contracts and standard national contracts, with each one of them being responsible for each package as indicated in table below.

Designed by France’s ADPI, the new Muscat International airport has a capacity to handle up to 12 million passengers a year. Succeeding phases of the airport expansion plan entails bringing the airport’s capacity to up to 48 million.

Main and Standard National Contracts for the New Muscat International Airport (OAMC, 2015)

ContractsDescriptionContract Awarded to
Project ManagementProject Management Consulting Serviceadpi
Principal ConsultantPrincipal Consultant for Design and SupervisionHill International
MC1Civil Works – new Runway, Taxiway, Apron, landside development. Access road to terminalConsolidated Contractors Company – TAV Joint Venture
MC2Air Traffic Control (ATC), Air Traffic Management (ATM), Data Centre (DC2), Contingency & Training Building (C&T), Crash, Fire & Rescue (CFR)Carillion Alawi
MC3Passenger Terminal Building (PTB)Bechtel-ENKA-Bahwan Engineering Company – Joint Venture
MC4ACivil Aviation Head Quarters BuildingTowell Construction Co. LLC
MC6IT & Security SystemsUltra Electronics
MC7Operational Readiness & Airport Transfer (ORAT)Munich Airport
MC8Baggage Handling SystemsVanderlande Industries
SNC9Air Traffic Management SystemsIndra
SNC10Navigational Aids SystemsThales
SNC11Passenger Boarding BridgesJBT Corporation
MC12Detail Design and Construction of Cargo and Maintenance, Repair and Over-haul FacilitiesAwarded
MC13Detail Design and Construction of Catering FacilitiesAwarded
Muscat International awarded packages
Key packagesContractorContract value ($m)AwardCompletion
Project management consultancyADPI (France)na20062014
Principal consultant for design and supervisionHill International (US)186.720122016
Civil works – new runway, taxiway, apron, landside development, access road to terminalConsolidated Contractors Company (Lebanon) / TAV Construction (Turkey) JV1,16920072016
Air traffic control (ATC),  data centre (DC2), contingency & training building (C&T), crash, fire & rescue (CFR)Carillion Alawi (local)14820102014
Passenger terminal buildingBechtel (US) / Enka (Turkey)/ Bahwan Engineering Company (local)  JV1,83420102016
Civil aviation headquartersTowell Construction (local)nanana
IT & security systemsUltra Electronics (UK)nanana
Operational readiness & airport transfer (ORAT)Munich Airport (Germany)nanana
Baggage-handling systemsVanderlande Industries (Netherlands)7320112016
Air traffic management systemsIndra (Spain)nanana
Navigational aids systemsThales (France)nanana
Passenger boarding bridgesJBT Corporation (US)nanana
Detail design and construction of cargo and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilitiesJoannou & Paraskevaides (Greece)51820072016
Detail design and construction of catering facilitiesGalfar Engineering & Contracting (local)17420132016
Design, supply, installation and commissioning of a new radarRaytheon (US)nanana
Design and construction supervision services for MRO hangars and cargo facilitiesGhafari Associates (local)nanana
Design and Construction Supervision for Inflight catering facilitiesAl-Hatmy Engineering (UAE)nanana
Dredging works and soil reclamationBoskalis Westminster (Netherlands)nanana
Improving & strengthening the soilSolitanche Bachy (France)nanana
Sources: OAMC; MEED Projects

The Muscat International Airport enhancement project, like any large-scale infrastructure development, faced several major risks throughout its implementation. Here are some key risks that could have impacted the project:

  1. Financial Risk: The project involved substantial financial investments. Fluctuations in currency exchange rates, unexpected cost overruns, or delays could have strained the project budget.
  2. Construction Delays: Delays in construction due to weather conditions, logistical challenges, labor strikes, or unforeseen technical issues could have postponed the project’s completion timeline and increased costs.
  3. Technological Challenges: Integrating advanced technologies into the new terminal and infrastructure may have posed risks such as compatibility issues, software bugs, or delays in system deployment.
  4. Environmental and Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to environmental regulations, obtaining necessary permits, and managing environmental impacts during construction were crucial to avoiding delays and legal complications.
  5. Operational Readiness: Ensuring that the new terminal and upgraded facilities were fully operational and ready to handle passenger traffic on schedule could have been challenging. Testing and commissioning phases were critical to mitigate operational risks.
  6. Security and Safety: Maintaining high standards of security and safety throughout the construction and operational phases was essential to protect both workers and passengers.
  7. Stakeholder Management: Managing relationships with various stakeholders, including government authorities, contractors, suppliers, and local communities, was important to ensure smooth project execution and minimize conflicts.
  8. Political and Economic Stability: The project’s success could have been influenced by broader political stability in Oman and economic conditions affecting funding availability and investor confidence.
  9. Supply Chain Risks: Dependency on suppliers and subcontractors for materials, equipment, and specialized services posed risks related to quality control, delivery delays, and cost fluctuations.
  10. Public Perception and Reputation: Any negative incidents, delays, or operational issues could have affected public perception and the reputation of the airport and the entities involved in the project.

Managing these risks required careful planning, proactive risk assessment, effective mitigation strategies, and constant monitoring throughout the project’s lifecycle to ensure successful completion and operation of the Muscat International Airport enhancement project.