Gulf Air to resume US flights next year

GULF Air is likely to start direct flights to the US next year as it completes the renovation of its long-haul fleet, it has emerged.

Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani, who is also the chairman of Bahrain’s national carrier, told the GDN that the airline’s five-year strategic plan was well underway.

“We are on track. Part of it (the plan) is expanding our route network with the new aircraft, whether it’s the long-range Boeing or the medium- and short-range Airbus planes,” he added.

He was speaking at Bahrain International Airport during a ceremony to mark the entry of the seventh Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner into Gulf Air’s fleet yesterday.


The aircraft will take off on its first commercial flight today from Bahrain to London Heathrow at 10.15am.

“With this aircraft we will be expanding our network and connectivity around the world and hope we can reach more destinations than we do today including the US next year,” said Mr Alzayani.

To mark Gulf Air’s 70th anniversary celebration next year, the newest member of the airline’s fleet displays a redesigned vintage version of the Golden Falcon Lockheed TriStar livery, representing the company’s iconic design from the 1970s.

“This special livery would definitely resonate with our global audience.

“It is a homage to our resilient national carrier, the oldest airline in the region, and how it continues to connect Bahrain to the world.”

Mr Alzayani was on the maiden flight that took off from the Boeing aircraft hub in Seattle on a nearly 15-hour direct flight to Bahrain.

“We flew over the North Pole, coming down over Europe and we took pictures of the Northern lights around Norway,” he said.

In 2018, Gulf Air launched its new brand identity at the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and introduced its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner along with a series of new destinations.

The airline also launched a new boutique strategy earlier this year, putting an increased focus on the corporate and upmarket leisure segments.

The minister said a renewal of the fleet and improvement of the airline’s premium product was gathering momentum with the addition of Dreamliners and Airbus A321neoLRs.

The fleet upgrade would allow it to open up new destinations in the future starting with the Maldives next week, he added.

According to sources, New York, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and new European destinations are top of the list in Gulf Air’s expansion plans.

Also present on the occasion was Gulf Air chief executive Krešimir Kucko who said that the national carrier has seen positive results in various areas of the business like growth of capacity, increase in destinations, frequencies and fleet since the launch of the new strategy this year.

The GDN reported in August that the airline logged a 77.4 per cent seat load factor for the first half of 2019 when compared with 74.3pc seat load factor in first half of 2018, whereas the number of carried passengers went up from 2.6 million last year to 3.2m this year.

“Our passengers are proving to be more loyal and we see returning customers since the launch of our new fleet products – the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the Airbus 320neo,” said Mr Kucko.

He said the airline is looking to beat the competition on quality and service and is working to build partnerships worldwide and may even consider joining one of the global alliances.

This summer, Gulf Air started operations to new seasonal destinations, Malaga in Spain and Salalah in Oman.

It also deployed additional flights to popular destinations.

As part of the fleet modernisation programme that began in 2018, the airline received its third A320neo aircraft earlier this year.

Three 787-9 Dreamliners are set to be delivered next year, whereas eight Airbus A321neoLRs will be delivered from early 2020.

Gulf Air is configuring its A321neoLRs with 16 lie-flat business class seats along with 152 economy seats.

A total of 39 new aircraft comprising Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, Airbus A320neos and Airbus A321neos will be inducted into the Gulf Air fleet by 2023.



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