Gulf Air recovers 80 per cent from pandemic impact

MANAMA, Nov. 1 (BNA): Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air is soaring on the way to full recovery from the impact of the pandemic that had hit hard the aviation sector globally.


Captain Waleed Al Alawi Chief Executive Officer Gulf Air, on the sidelines of opening of the World Passenger Symposium (WPS) said that the national carrier has recorded almost 80% recovery from the impact of the pandemic.


Organised by International Air Transport Association and hosted by Gulf Air, the three-day global aviation meet was inaugurated by Gulf Air CEO on Tuesday alongside aviation experts, operators, and regulators from across the world.


“Gulf Air remains positive about the business as national carrier will add a new A321 aircraft cater for the long-haul flights,” he said. 


“We are keen on starting direct flights to the US as talks and approvals process are very much underway,” Captain Waleed, added.


The event is being held under the theme: “Unlocking Value Creation by Putting the Customer First”, this year’s WPS combines the former Digital and Data and Retailing Symposium, the Global Airport and Passenger Symposium and the Accessibility Symposium into a single event to reflect the importance and connectedness of all three elements to the customer experience.


In addition to plenary sessions, three knowledge tracks will address the end-to-end customer journey – everything from shopping and purchasing an air travel product to arriving at the destination. Each discrete step in the travel process will be addressed from customer and provider perspectives.


Captain Al Alawi highlighted the national carrier’s keenness to support such events where aviation experts exchange their knowledge and expertise towards the future of the industry during the post pandemic phase. 


He also stressed that aviation is an integral part of the economy of Bahrain and reconnecting the world again is one of Gulf Air’s key strategy elements; inviting all participants to benefit from the Symposium’s sessions, and to enjoy everything the Kingdom has to offer.


The Symposium touches upon a few important trends and issues in the aviation world today, with sessions ranging from Retailing and Payment and Accessibility to Airport & Pax Experience, which will see panelists and participants discussing these issues considering the aviation industry’s variables in recent times.


“The aviation industry has been through a dreadful couple of years. At the end of 2022 the industry will have lost around 190 billion US dollars in the three years,” Willie Walsh, IATA Director General told the media on day one of the event.


“The good news is the recovery is gaining momentum. Overall, the passenger market is at about 75% of where we were in 2019. We expect the overall industry to get back to 2019 levels by 2024. North America by 2023, the Middle east and Latin America by 2024 and Asia Pacific and Europe by 2025.”


However, he said, there are challenges, namely the effects of the pandemic linger on in many parts of the industry, secondly, the direction of the global economy is uncertain and jet fuel prices are high and volatile.


“People want to travel. Economies are thirsty for the benefits that aviation brings. And for island nations like Bahrain air connectivity is vital. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic the industry needs to prioritize sustainability, customers, and diversity,” he said.


“Sustainability is our license to grow. Last year the industry took the monumental decision to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. And last month at the 41st ICAO Triennial Assembly a global agreement on aviation and climate was approved by governments.”


 The Assembly's adoption of a Long-Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 is a significant achievement. This aligns states with both the objectives of the Paris Agreement.


“Now that governments and industry are both focused on net zero by 2050, we expect much stronger policy initiatives in key areas of decarbonization such as incentivizing the production capacity of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).”


Travel during COVID-19 was complex, cumbersome and time consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements, he added.


“Post-pandemic, passengers want improved efficiency throughout their trip. They expect technologies like biometric identification and smart phones to shorten wait times and make airport processes more efficient,” he said.


“Some airports in the region including Bahrain are taking a leading role in using technology to drive improvement in the passenger experience. These initiatives are helping to lead the industry toward our One ID vision for biometric identification which enables paperless travel-of course with all due attention paid to ensuring the security of personal data.


“The last area that would like to cover is gender diversity and inclusion. It is no secret that women are under-represented in some technical professions as well as in senior management at airlines. It is also well-known that we are a growing industry that needs a big pool of skilled talent. If we don't engage the female half of the world's population much more effectively, we won't have the needed people power to grow.


“That is why IATA's 25by2025 Campaign, which was recently endorsed by ICAO, is so important. It will help us to address this industry's gender imbalance.


“25by2025 is a voluntary program for airlines to commit to increasing female participation at senior levels to at least 25% or improve by 25% by 2025. The choice of target helps airlines at any point on the diversity journey to participate meaningfully,” he said.




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