SalamAir (OV, Muscat) is expecting to carry 1.3 million passengers in 2019 and plans to more than double that figure to three million by 2020, with this traffic growth also expecting to see the Middle East low-cost carrier (LCC) deliver a profit next year.

Speaking to Middle East business journal Zawya, the LCC's Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Ahmed expects to turn the airline's financial figures from red to black soon. "This year we have managed to achieve a slight improvement in our budget, but we still have to finish this quarter. We should be able to announce a breakeven this year and start making a profit next year."

Even with regular annual profits behind him, Ahmed still expects to require some extra financial muscle to drive future growth. "Listing will come in time. Once we have three years of profitability, I am sure the board and shareholders will want to take this company to IPO so we can fuel the next stage of growth.”

The LCC recently announced that it will start flying to Dammam, Colombo Int'l, and Bahrain Int'l by the second week of November and its route development strategy is littered with firsts explains Ahmed.

“When we came in, there was no domestic flight between Sohar and Salalah. We introduced that flight, and it was successful. There was never a flight between Muscat and Khartoum; we started that. Alexandria Borg el Arab and Multan were never connected to Muscat; we started that. Shiraz was connected via some Iranian carriers; we did that route in the absence of a national carrier.”

When consulting the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, SalamAir operates a fleet of three A320-200s and four A320-200neo, and it plans to grow its network to points within reach of its neo aircraft. Pakistan and Bangladesh are already a feature of the LCC's network, and it views India is its next opportunity.

"At the moment, the traffic rights do not have any more capacity; however, we are negotiating with authorities in India,” said Ahmed. “The relationship with India and Oman is very historical, and there are a lot of business people who travel back and forth. A flight to any Indian destination will be very successful.”