Oman Air has made a few improvements to its in-flight offering and it appears the airline is comparing itself with major regional competitor, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi. Launching a range of redesigned amenity kits for its premium passengers, Oman Air says its “dedicated to providing only the highest quality of service” which is pretty standard airline marketing fluff.
But in an Instagram post to coincide with the launch, Oman Air boasts: “Fashion is temporary, class is permanent.” That might seem like a perfectly nice comment at first glance but industry observers can’t fail to notice the link with Etihad who became global Fashion Week sponsors in April 2016.
It appears Oman Air is referencing the fact that the Abu Dhabi-based airline has recently made cuts to its amenity kit offering for premium guests and has even started to sell the kit to Economy passengers for $22.
In recent years, Etihad has positioned itself as the official airline of the fashion industry. Along with the major fashion show sponsorship, Etihad even runs a special loyalty programme called ‘Runway to Runway’ designed specifically for fashion industry workers.
The airline regularly collaborates with designers and models to present special films and post social media updates. Etihad even showcases its cabin crew as leading the fashion pack in their designer, Ettore Bilotta-designed uniforms.
Oman Air, on the other hand, has approached its brand image much more conservatively. The airline joined the race for Gulf dominance a little late and doesn’t have the deep pockets like its competitors in the UAE and Qatar.
The new amenity kits were designed by local designer fragrance house, Amouage and will feature “generous sizes such as hand and body moisturiser, face cream and lip balm.” First Class passengers will enjoy his and her versions of the kit, while Business Class get a unisex version presented in a leather pouch.
On shorter flights, however, premium guests will only get a ‘comfort set’ which includes eyeshades, dental kit and rather bizarrely, a hairbrush. Economy passengers will also soon get their own amenity kit on long-haul flights.
Another really nice touch is the introduction of a ‘while you were sleeping card’ – essentially, instead of cabin crew either ignoring or waking up a sleeping passenger during the meal service, they can leave the card at the passenger’s seat.
The airline describes it as a “friendly reminder” that the cabin crew haven’t forgotten them.
It’s all part of a wider project to improve service onboard the state-owned airline. Later this year, the airline will be launching services to Casablanca, Istanbul and Moscow and it recently took delivery of the first two of 30 Boeing 737MAX aircraft it has on order.
Oman Air says it has embraced a new business model based on point-to-point travel that revolves around Oman as a destination. It points to similar countries such as Iceland who have implemented similar business models with great success.
The airline hopes to be flying 39 million passengers annually by 2030 – a fraction of the number flown by rivals in the region. In the future, Oman Air’s fortunes will be tied closely with the tourism industry within the country.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.