Oman is a growing tourist destination and the airport is expanding to handle demand.
Double digit passenger growth at Muscat International Airport (formerly called Seeb International) has meant that expansion has become necessary to accommodate future needs. As a result of fleet and route expansion by the national carrier Oman Air, and increases in capacity and frequency by other carriers, a new terminal building is under construction and will be operational in late 2014.
The expansion will also ease pressure on the existing passenger terminal building in terms of passenger processing especially at peak times and ensure that comfort standards are maintained. Well that is the theory anyway.
Some changes have already been made. A pier adjacent to the departures terminal building that can accommodate 3,000 passengers was built and opened in April 2009. It provides an additional 17,000 square metres of space and retail stores across two levels. In typical lavish style for the Middle East, the first floor interior is a combination of marble and carpeted floors, with Omani-themed decor.
Given that Muscat processes less than seven million passengers, the departures retail offer revolves around one large duty free store, and some smaller units, rather than a fully fledged retail mall. There are seven shops in total, plus an arrivals store. Under name Muscat Duty Free, these stores are operated by Oman Sales & Service, established in 2003 as a joint venture with a subsidiary of Ireland’s Aer Rianta which has a very strong presence in many other airports in the region including Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Qatar.
That regional, but also international, experience means that the product sourcing at Muscat is good, and up to date, and the offer has been greatly enhanced since 2003 according to some sources. The main duty free store, opposite gate four on the ground floor has a very comprehensive shopping offer from perfumery, cosmetics, jewellery, fashions and accessories to liquor, tobacco, confectionery, food, photo-electronic products, and, of course, gold.