MUSCAT: Oman Air is planning to hire another 800 employees to increase their numbers to 7,300 by 2017.

Speaking at the HR Challenges in Aviation Industry conference which began at Crowne Plaza Muscat on Sunday, Dr Rashid al Ghailani, chief human resources officer at Oman Air said, “From the current 6,500, we expect the number of employees to reach 7,300 by 2017.”

The two-day conference began under the auspices of Mohammed bin Nasser A’Zaabi, chief executive officer of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation. It is being hosted by Oman Air in association with the Al Nimr International Exhibition Organisers.

Dr Ghailani said, “Our hiring is linked to our expansion programme. Once our operations shift to the new Muscat International Airport, we will require a bigger team for ground handling, ticketing, sales and marketing and other sectors.”

Paul Gregorowitsch, chief executive officer, Oman Air, said, “We expect our fleet size to reach 70 by 2017 from the present 41. By 2017, we will have 45 narrow body and 25 wide body aircraft.

“Currently, we serve 50 destinations and hope to reach 70 by 2017. Our aim is to see how we can develop our intellectual capital. No company can exist or run without it.”

The conference is focusing on current trends and challenges related to human resources management and how to improve the performance and efficiency of employees in the aviation sector.

It is also discussing on how to prepare the next generation of aviation employees through professional development programmes.

Dr Ghailani added, “We have a very ambitious plan and we are going in the right direction. We hope to implement our plan in the coming two years.

Our Omanisation plan is going as per the schedule. Fifty per cent of our pilots are Omanis now while 65 per cent of our engineers starting from the head in the engineering section to ground engineers are Omanis. My dream is to see the company keep growing.”