Oman Air in discussions to acquire regional jets

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Oman Air is in discussions with Embraer and Bombardier over the possible addition of regional jets to support the development of domestic routes within the sultanate.

At the start of the year the Omani government included funds in its 2008 budget to help develop six regional airports, alongside its two main centres at Muscat and Salalah, as part of a drive to boost tourism.

"In the next few years, there will almost certainly be the development of local services within Oman to link some of the major tourism sites," says Oman Air chief executive Peter Hill.

Although the carrier has largely withdrawn its ATR turboprops from regional services, Hill says the carrier is studying the acquisition of new regional jets. "We are in negotiations with Bombardier and Embraer to see who is going to be the ­chosen one," he says. "We are looking at four or five aircraft to start with. The timeframe would be around 2011 or 2012."

Oman Air's short-haul and regional services are now served with Boeing 737-700/800s.

The carrier has also started branching back into long-haul operations, initially through leasing agreements for 767s and Airbus A310s ahead of the introduction of A330s next year.