Some wise words from Oman Air chief executive and industry veteran Peter Hill, who is in London for the travel exhibition extravaganza that is World Travel Market. I asked him if there was too much capacity in the Middle East airline sector right now.
"The problem is there is too much capacity everywhere," he says. "It's the toughest environment I've ever experienced. Yields are under pressure everywhere, with the exception of some niche markets." While noting the roller-coaster nature of the airline business is always high and lows,he highlights the global nature of this downturn make it one of the toughest years he's even seen. "It might even get worse [for some] this winter," he adds.
What a time then to be launching a string of new international routes? Oman Air opened London last year, has recently added Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, the Maldives, while Sri Lanka -after a few delays in the process - follows in the middle of this month. This expansion is all tied to the Omani Government's tourism ambitions and Hill appreciates the benefit of having an owner with a long-term strategy. While the group will lose money during this expansion, Hill says the aim is to grow the network now so as to establish it as sustainable airline. Within five years he expects the group to at least reach break-even. You can read more on Oman's Air strategy here
Expect to hear more about Oman Air's expansion plans over the coming weeks and check out our video below as he explains some of the benefits to growing in a downturn: