Menzies Aviation, the subsidiary of John Menzies PLC whose original operation was at many British train stations selling newspapers, is trying to form a joint venture with Oman Air to provide ground handling at all of Oman’s airports.
The original John Menzies company which was founded in 1833 sold its newsagent business to WH Smith and has since expanded into freight services and aircraft support services.
Oman Air has its origins in 1970 as a ground handler at Muscat’s original airport at Bait Al Falaj in Ruwi. The airline ‘Oman Air’ was established in 1993, taking over Oman Aviation Services which was established in 1981.
Menzies Aviation, one of Britain’s top 4 aircraft ground handlers, currently operate in 31 countries with 149 individual locations, their clients include Etihad and Virgin. Oman Air has 9 bases in Oman including Muscat International Airport.
Should the joint venture move forward it will have 2,500 employees and handle more than 50,000 aircraft a year. Ground Handling provides general service to the aircraft, Catering to the passengers and Ramp service which includes refuelling and luggage handling.
The joint venture is hoped to start at the end of 2016 which will enable them to be operating by the time the new terminal at Muscat International Airport opens. The date implied for the new terminal in Oman’s newspapers is ‘end of 2016’. Should this ambitious opening date be met, Menzies Aviation will support a smooth opening period for this critical part of Oman’s intended move away from its economic dependency on oil.
Update 8 June 2016
In a signing ceremony Oman Airports Management Company announced there will be two ground handlers at Muscat International Airport and the Menzies partnership will also handle Salalah Airport.
Swissport the second ground handler handles cargo for Oman Air’s own planes in Europe is owned by the French private equity group PAI.