Oman Air Appoints Strategic New CEO… Expect Changes

Oman Air Appoints Strategic New CEO… Expect Changes

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Boutique Gulf carrier Oman Air has just appointed a new CEO. He seems like a smart pick, though it’s probably not great news for the passenger experience.

Con Korfiatis becomes Oman Air CEO

Con Korfiatis has just been appointed CEO of Oman Air, tasked with leading the carrier’s financial turnaround. Korfiatis has been in the airline industry for around 30 years, and most recently, has served as CEO of flyadeal, a Saudi low cost carrier that’s a subsidiary of Saudia. Prior to working in the Middle East, he help positions in Asia-Pacific, including in Indonesia, Singapore, and China.

Prior to Korfiatis’s appointment, Nasser Al Salmi was Oman Air’s Acting CEO, as he was put in that role as of August 2023. Before that, Abdul Aziz Al Raisi was Oman Air’s CEO. Both of them were good local aviation talent who had been at the airline for decades, but they didn’t actually seem to have a vision for making the airline profitable.

For so long, Oman Air was basically run as a government vanity project, and it didn’t seem like profitability was a priority (or if it was, they did a really bad job with it). Clearly Oman’s government was tired of losing money on the airline, and decided it was time to make drastic changes. Recently, we saw Oman Air greatly downsize its fleet, including retiring all Airbus A330s, and I imagine that’s only the beginning of the changes.

Here’s how the Chairman of Oman Air (also the country’s Minister of Transport) describes this appointment:

“Con’s professional background, coupled with his expertise in organizational transformation and strategy development, make him the perfect fit to lead Oman Air through this crucial phase of its transformation. We have full confidence in Con’s ability to steer the company towards sustainable, long-term success while guiding it through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Oman Air now has a new CEO

This will have major implications for Oman Air

Based on who Oman Air has appointed as CEO, it’s pretty clear the airline is serious about a financial turnaround. Not only is the airline picking a foreigner and outsider to the company (unlike what the airline has historically done), but it’s also picking someone who largely has experience with ultra low cost carriers. That’s pretty telling.

As I’ve often said, Oman Air offers a phenomenal passenger experience (well, on a good day), but there’s simply no logic to it. The airline has to undercut competitors on price, all while offering a really well-rounded experience. On top of that, Oman Air’s aircraft have inefficient configurations, all while the airline seems to actually struggle to sell premium seats. Then Oman Air has a first class product that’s clearly a vanity project, including a first class lounge that’s almost always empty.

All of these things are nice to have if the goal is to have a luxury airline in your local market, but they’re less nice to have if the goal is to maximize profitability.

I have to imagine that Korfiatis will make some tough decisions that help with the carrier’s long-term sustainability, and I imagine Oman Air won’t look the same a few years down the road. For that matter, I’m curious if the airline even plans to join oneworld anymore, or if that’s just viewed as an unnecessary cost.

I can’t imagine Oman Air will keep first class

Bottom line

Oman Air has appointed Con Korfiatis as CEO. Not only is he an outsider to the airline, but he has experience with running ultra low cost carriers, which is telling of what the airline is looking for.

For years, Oman Air has been losing money while offering a great passenger experience, and the airline almost seemed like an investment in promoting Oman. Now the government is changing its priorities, and wants the airline to be profitable. We’ve started to see some major changes, but I imagine this is only the beginning.

What do you make of Oman Air’s pick for a new CEO?

Conversations (5)
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  1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I really hope that OmanAir still joins the OneWorld Alliance.

    1. Andy Diamond

      So do I. This probably depends on the degree of influence of QR. Remember, it was QR who first invited them and they also have rather extensive collaboration through code shares, wetleases etc. I don't think QR is interested in collaborating with an ULCC. Possibly something like the Rwandair-Qatar relationsip could make sense, i.e., a quality feeder airline for QR, with a few top level demand routes (e.g.; LHR) served directly. And a collaboration with...

      So do I. This probably depends on the degree of influence of QR. Remember, it was QR who first invited them and they also have rather extensive collaboration through code shares, wetleases etc. I don't think QR is interested in collaborating with an ULCC. Possibly something like the Rwandair-Qatar relationsip could make sense, i.e., a quality feeder airline for QR, with a few top level demand routes (e.g.; LHR) served directly. And a collaboration with Indigo for the routes to South Asia (direct, but LCC).

  2. A220HubandSpoke Member

    Scrap First class, replace the apex suites with reverse herringbone, make the FFP worth something, partner with more airlines, scale up dramatically to gain economies of scale.

    Just some basic ideas.

  3. JoeMart Guest

    Your trip report costed the CEO dearly.

  4. hanchicago Guest

    I guess first class on Oman Air is not long for this world.

    With that said, for personal reasons alone, I hope it sticks around for at least a couple of more months.

    I predict WY will be off your world's top first class list come 2025, mainly because WY will likely drop that cabin.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Andy Diamond

So do I. This probably depends on the degree of influence of QR. Remember, it was QR who first invited them and they also have rather extensive collaboration through code shares, wetleases etc. I don't think QR is interested in collaborating with an ULCC. Possibly something like the Rwandair-Qatar relationsip could make sense, i.e., a quality feeder airline for QR, with a few top level demand routes (e.g.; LHR) served directly. And a collaboration with Indigo for the routes to South Asia (direct, but LCC).

0
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

I really hope that OmanAir still joins the OneWorld Alliance.

0
A220HubandSpoke Member

Scrap First class, replace the apex suites with reverse herringbone, make the FFP worth something, partner with more airlines, scale up dramatically to gain economies of scale. Just some basic ideas.

0
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