The Muscat-based partially privately owned airline has placed firm orders for two ATR 42-500s with options on four more, which can be taken as the larger ATR 72-500. The two firmly ordered aircraft will be delivered later this year, with the options due in 1999.

Oman Air general manager Clive Raymond says that the ATRs will be used to expand services from Muscat to various points in the region including Dubai and Abu Dhabi. "We are also planning to remove the seats and use the aircraft as freighters at night," says Raymond. Four Fokker F27s are now operated on the airline's regional network.

The carrier is also adding two secondhand Airbus A310-300s on lease from International Lease Finance, which Raymond says will replace two of three A320s now operated on lease. "Two A320 leases expire next year, and these will be returned to Orix," he says, adding that a third aircraft is due to return in 2000. This may be terminated early and replaced by a third A310.

Raymond expresses his desire to establish some form of ATR regional support centre in Oman, which could eventually include training and maintenance facilities. The airline has recently concluded an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Aircraft Maintenance (GAMCO) to set up a joint venture maintenance operation to support its expanding fleet.

Source: Flight International