Just over 3 months ago, the award-winning boutique airline, Oman Air, appointed APG Canada (via its licensing company, Anjuna Global), as its local GSA, and the duo had impressive information to share last night at its Canada sales office opening celebration in Markham.
Growth strategy for Canada
In an interview with PAX, Rogier de Jager, regional vice-president – Europe for Oman Air, explained: “We just started in Canada since July 1. This market used to be completely offline so we gave it moderate attention. Then when the cooperation with Air Canada started, it really, really took off. We feed excellently into London Heathrow and into Frankfurt almost seamlessly, so that really turned that offline market to a semi-online market. That’s the reason now why we have a strategic partnership with APG and Anjuna because they are the experts in this market.”
De Jager also said that Air Canada had been an incredibly strong partner, providing lift across the Atlantic into the gateway in Europe and then giving Oman onward carriage. “It’s really encouraging to have such a proactive partner as AC in building this network, which is great.”
James Vaile, global CEO and co-founder, Anjuna Solutions, the licensing company for APG in Canada, shared that on behalf of the GSA, it represents 26 airlines in Canada. “We’re addressing the airline representation business from a different perspective. We’re not just offering a sales and marketing option for airlines. It’s more about a holistic approach.”
As for its representation with Oman Air, he shared that they were able to experience a tenfold increase in business within the first month: “It’s about matching the right product with the market. We did the analysis, identified the opportunities with the Oman Airways network, we got an incredibly strong partner with Air Canada that gives us the lift across the Atlantic into the gateways in Europe, and then we can provide either onward travel to destination Muscat or beyond.”
Jon Murray, Account Manager, APG Canada explained that the vision right now is to get the fares on the market to gather response as well as continue reaching out to agencies to establish contact and develop relationships: “Our goal is to get out there and make sure that Oman Air is well represented here (in Canada).”
When it comes to working with the travel trade, Vaile added: "It's about taking feedback from the trade and then going to our partners, being our client airlines to build product around that. What we've done in the last 3 months with Oman is absolutely brilliant! They've been incredibly responsive to the Canadian market in terms of building these connections over London and Frankfurt to get into the Middle East and/or into the Indian subcontinent."
Mable Tang - managing director, APG Canada. and Jonathan Murray - account manager, Canada, Oman Air
Through APG’s offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, activities are underway to increase both the sales and profile of Oman Air in Canada’s marketplace, especially being one of the lesser known Middle East carriers but one that the industry should definitely become familiar with. Mable Tang, APG Canada’s Managing Director, based in Vancouver, shared with PAX on-location that “Oman Air is committed to this market (Canada) and with the appointment of APG Canada, it proves this point.”
As for what you may expect when flying with the flagship carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, de Jager simply describes the experience as ‘amazing.’ “The Omani hospitality starts already when you enter into the aircraft. Omanis are very warm friendly people, very liberal and tolerant and that also makes Oman as a country a very safe country. For Canada, the majority of traffic is presently routed to the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia; however, de Jager shared that the long-term strategy is to ultimately attract more Canadians to choose the Sultanate of Oman as a destination. And why Oman?
The Oman Air and APG team were proud to report that Oman is the #4 safest destination in the world (Finland is #1 and Canada is #2). Oman’s status as an authentic up-and-coming destination was also highlighted during the presentation.
Although a much smaller carrier than the big three, with approximately 50 aircraft, Murray said that Oman Air has a deliberate growth strategy with the aim of building a sustainable airline and providing a high level of service for passengers. Its business class product, he said, is one of its signature products. “I think that Oman probably has the best business class seat that’s on the market right now,” he said, mentioning its ample seat size and flat bed.
Although they are up against major Gulf carriers, Oman Air’s commitment to quality comfort and a seamless passenger experience has resulted in a long list of accolades including its recent award, for a second consecutive time – The Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality & Lifestyle Award for best airline in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Other awards received by this ultimate luxury carrier include several for the best business class in the Middle East, with its business class representing its signature product.
“Honestly, we have a problem selling first class because we made our business class too good. It’s almost like a mini first class,” explained de Jager.
Work with the travel trade will be done directly by APG. “They are our eyes and ears in this market,” said de Jager. “On a day-to-day basis, it will be APG, and they will do everything they can with trade shows, special promotions, also incentive contracts with the top producers in Canada.”
Travel agent takeaways
Some takeaways for travel agents from the evening include:
- During the presentation, it was announced that Oman Air will introduce a BSP Commission of 5 per cent in Canada, applicable on all tickets issued from Oct. 30, 2017.
- Its airline code is WY (910).
- The Sultanate was described as an incredible, authentic destination steeped in historical locations
- Oman is a very secular market, which is encouraging to western tourists.
- The frequency of service provided out of Europe is key – double daily out of Heathrow and double daily out of Frankfurt, all with connections through the hub of Muscat.
- Oman Air offers seamless connectivity with 86 per cent of the flights transferring within three hours and 52 per cent within two hours.
- Its main area is South Asia, with Middle East/Gulf states and some Africa.
- Oman Air is a smaller carrier compared to the big three serving the Middle East, with around 50 aircraft – but with a deliberate growth strategy.