Oman Air intends to introduce nine Airbus A330s by the end of 2011, doubling its fleet size and heavily increasing the airline's capacity as part of a government programme to replace Gulf Air in Muscat.

Oman Air is also to explore the potential for Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 acquisition.

The airline is setting out a five-year plan to develop its fleet and set out business targets after the Omani government's decision to drop its involvement with Gulf Air and invest in its own flag carrier.

Oman Air, whose fleet comprises five Boeing 737-800s and three 737-700s, is to have 10 737s by the end of March 2009. But the carrier's chief executive, Ziad Al-Haremi, says the airline will also have nine A330-300s and -200s by 2011.

"These numbers of aircraft are not the end of it, but merely the beginning," he says, adding that an international consultant will be recruited to develop a 20-year long-term business plan.

"This is where we are heading: the latest aircraft with the latest in-flight entertainment systems. We are going to three-class configurations on some of our future long-haul routes," says Al-Haremi.

"Concurrent with this ambitious growth plan the airline aims to embark on a major restructuring and rebranding initiative."

Oman Air has been seeking aircraft to lease and is expecting to open its first long-haul services, probably to London and Bangkok, by November this year.

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