Interview with Joseph Cusmano, Country Manager Thailand, Oman Air
“Bangkok is our busiest city in Asia”
Oman Air mounted up frequencies to Bangkok with a third daily flight connecting Thailand capital to Muscat since the end of June. Country Manager Joseph Cusmano tells more about the carrier expansion in Thailand and Asia.
Why a third daily flight to Thailand? Can the market support another flight?
Joseph Cusmano- Bangkok remains one of the most popular cities in the world and attracts millions of travellers a year. We also see a nascent outbound market of Thai travelers who are going increasingly to Europe and discover the Middle East. Our route, which started a decade ago, saw an increase of 12% in total passengers last year and we had to take it into account. Our new frequency is done also with a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamline and this time targets more travelers from the Gulf area to Bangkok and vice versa. We can also offer a perfect product to Saudi Arabia to some of the Muslim community travelling there to perform Umrah as we have convenient connections to Jeddah and Medina.
How important is Bangkok for Oman Air?
Joseph Cusmano- with our third frequency, Bangkok has become our most important destination in the Far East. With the introduction of the third frequency at the end of June, we boost our capacity to 5,600 seats per week. We have actually grown from strength to strength. We started a decade ago to fly to Bangkok then added our second daily frequency four years ago.
Do you also look at the Thai outbound market?
Joseph Cusmano- Thai outbound market remains relatively compared to its neighbours although it has been growing regularly over years. They are many factors which explain the performance of Thailand outbound. Visa issue is a major problem to go to many countries and it can sometimes be complicated. There is also the question of language skills with some being deterred to travel abroad as they feel not to master enough English. However, our flights have been also popular for Thai travelling to Europe. Thai travelers go mostly with us to Zurich, the most popular destination followed by Paris and then Munich. We see also a growth in the number of Thai tourists to Italy.
How about the promotion of Oman itself to the Thai market?
Joseph Cusmano- We are now actively promoting Oman in Thailand, particularly Salalah, a resort city which benefits from an exceptional climate. It is cooler in summer, whilst the rest of the Gulf is over 40° and more, Salalah is having its wet season called Khareef which in Arabic mean autumn. The area turns all green with a misty rain coming and cooling the atmosphere. Hotels are then packed by visitors from the Gulf. Salalah offers also a true traditional Arabic Omani culture worth to discover with fantastic food, handicraft in authentic villages.
Are there expansion plans to the rest of Southeast Asia?
Joseph Cusmano- We currently fly to four other destinations in Southeast Asia outside Bangkok. We have 10 weekly services to Kuala Lumpur, a daily service to Manila whilst we operate four times a week to Jakarta (Indonesia) and to Guangzhou (China). We have expansion plan in the region and although currently we are adding frequencies rather than opening new routes, we will most certainly add new route in the future.
Any Qatar Airways effect on your traffic?
Joseph Cusmano- So far, it is too early to say if the Qatar crisis has had positive benefit for us in regard to our passenger’s activity. Rather than in the Far East the effect of this situation are felt more in the GCC region.