MAS alliance stymies Oman Air's Australia strategy

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Oman Air's plan to codeshare to Australia with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has been put on hold following the latter's intention to join the Oneworld alliance from late 2012.

The Omani national carrier had been in discussions with MAS to establish a virtual network serving Australia, a spokesman said. Oman Air intended to place its WY code on MAS' flights to Australia from Kuala Lumpur, where Oman Air flies to four times a week. Oman Air already codeshares with MAS from Kuala Lumpur to other Malaysian and regional destinations.

"They have just announced their plan to join the Oneworld alliance in 2012 and have told us that they cannot discuss new codeshares at the moment," the spokesman said.

He affirmed the carrier's "preference would still be to serve Australia by code sharing. We don't have any plans to fly there with our own equipment".

Oman Air's long-range fleet comprises four Airbus A330-200 aircraft and two A330-300 aircraft, shows Flightglobal's ACAS database. While the A330s do not have sufficient range to serve Australia non-stop, the carrier has six Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners on order for delivery no earlier than 2014.

In April the Omani and Australian governments signed a memorandum of understanding permitting Omani carriers to operate up to four direct flights a week to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane with additional frequencies for services that stopover or end at regional airports. Australian carriers were permitted four weekly flights from the same four cities to Oman, and additional frequencies for services operating or originating from a regional airport. The MoU included codesharing arrangements.

Oman Air's far east network also includes eight weekly services to Thailand's Bangkok, schedules in Innovata show.