Omanis rush to buy plane tickets to attend Gulf Cup final

The sultanate's national team will be competing against Iraq for the trophy

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Thousands of Omanis are seeking flights to support their national football team in the Gulf Cup final on Thursday.

Oman beat Bahrain 1-0 to set up a meeting with hosts Iraq in the final of the tournament.

The chief executive of Oman Air said the airline added two special flights on Thursday to fly supporters to Basra.

The eight-team tournament kicked off in the southern port city on January 6 and will end on Thursday.

It brought together teams from Iraq, Yemen and the six GCC states — the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

“We would like to be there, as many of us as possible, to win it for the third time,” Saif Al Harrasi, an Omani flying to see the match on Thursday with Oman Air, told The National.

Oman have won the cup twice before, in 2009 and 2017-2018. The tournament is held every two years.

“We have two special flights tomorrow to Basra for football supporters as Oman Air’s gesture to help Omanis support their team,” Abdulaziz Al Raisi, Oman Air's chief executive, told The National.

He declined to comment further but a company official said the flights to Iraq's southern city would be on narrow-body planes.

“The two planes are Boeing 737s and both flights cannot take more than 500 passengers. We have at least 2,000 passengers enquiring to fly to the Gulf final,” they said.

He added that the two flights were fully booked within three hours of going on sale on Tuesday.

A return flight on Oman Air from Muscat to Basra costs 180 rials (Dh1,920).

“Airlines have hiked airfares from Muscat to Basra by 30 per cent to take advantage of the demand,” Ayoub Assawi of Muscat Travel Agency told The National.

Omanis who failed to book tickets on the two Oman Air flights are now trying to get flights on regional airlines.

“I just secured a flight with Emirates for tomorrow’s flight. I guess I am lucky because I hear tickets from regional airlines to Iraq are going fast or are already sold out,” Mohammed Al Fazari told The National.

Other supporters were grateful to get a flight with Qatar Airways.

“I made enquiries with Qatar Airways and managed to secure my ticket and for three of my friends. I hear now the flight for tomorrow is already fully booked,” Salim Al Maashari, told The National.

Officials at Emirates' and Qatar Airways' offices in Muscat confirmed that Omanis were buying last-minute tickets to Iraq.

“We are sold out for tomorrow’s flight for the final. We have had many enquiries but we regret to say we cannot take any more Omanis to watch their country play Iraq because we are fully booked,” said Sam Allaway, a Qatar Airways official.

This will be Oman’s fifth final in the Gulf Cup. In addition to winning twice, it was the runner-up on the other two occasions.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 4:05 PM