Featured Hotels Destinations Move Work Events Awards Videos
Focus

Bridging the Gulf

With an entrepreneurial spirit that is exporting Arab hospitality to the far corners of the globe, a trip on Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, offers much more than a route from A to B

Comments  
 

Gulf Air is the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain and one of the pioneering airlines in the region, having been established in 1950. Celebrating its 60th anniversary last year, Gulf Air today has grown to become one of most recognisable and respectable brands in the aviation industry. The Golden Falcon is etched in the minds of almost every traveller flying into or out of the region.

One of the prime objectives of Gulf Air is to connect Bahrain to the Middle East countries and the rest of the world. With a fleet of 34 aircraft, the airline currently flies to 51 cities in 33 countries and is proud of the fact that it operates the largest network in the Middle East with non-stop flights while providing seamless onward connections to other international destinations. For passengers from Europe, the Far East and the Indian subcontinent wishing to do business or visit key primary and secondary cities in the region, Gulf Air provides an unbeatable choice of flights at convenient timings in a brand new, compact yet luxurious fleet of aircraft,

Headquartered in Bahrain, Gulf Air feeds in nearly 70 percent of the Bahrain International Airport’s traffic and takes pride that most travellers are choosing to fly with Gulf Air. The Kingdom’s location is a great advantage for Gulf Air; strategically perched at the doorstep of Saudi Arabia – the region’s biggest country both in terms of area as well as market size – giving companies unparalleled access to the booming MENA markets – a 400 million-person market – and Gulf Air is the key link to access this huge potential market.

Reflecting the needs and aspirations of its customers and responding to the changing business scenario in the region, Gulf Air announced a new business strategy in November 2009 focusing on four core areas: network, fleet, product and cost.

Through creating a targeted, more focused international network, a superior, more consistent product, a modern more efficient fleet and aggressive cost rationalisation, the airline is aggressively seeking to differentiate itself from its competitors and establish its niche position in the market. The airline will strengthen its network through focusing on Bahrain and generate a new market of travellers by identifying and launching services to underserved and niche markets, while creating high-yield city pairs in medium and long-range destinations leveraging its unique position as the carrier with the largest Middle East international network. Gulf Air’s aim is to serve every Arab capital with at least a double daily service enabling business travellers and other busy people to travel to their choice destinations and return home the same day, besides connecting Bahrain to the world’s key financial hubs in the very near future.

As part of implementing the strategy, the airline identified and launched services to eight new destinations in 2011– the largest number of destinations opened since 1976; Isfahan, Addis Ababa, Milan, Geneva, Basra, Kabul, Copenhagen and Nairobi, with a further two destinations opening this year – Rome and Entebbe.

Gulf Air was the first airline in the GCC region to commence flights to Baghdad and Erbil –two key markets besides Basra (beginning December 2010) where some of the major Russian oil, energy and transport companies have invested heavily.

The airline has also embarked on a dynamic re-fleeting programme and as result the airline’s current average fleet age is just 6.4 years as against 11.7 years a year ago. By the end of 2011, more than two-thirds of its fleet will be new with an average fleet age of just three years, thus providing customers a choice of brand new planes with state-of-the-art livery and cabin products and services.

Gulf Air has also started introducing several new products and services to provide enhanced travel experience to its customers. Since November 2009 it has increased its baggage allowance by ten kilograms in all classes. Online check-in is now available across the majority of our network and the website is now multilingual with Arabic French and German versions besides English.

But perhaps the biggest enhancement on the product offering is the launch of Falcon Gold – the premium travel experience which offers the best of Gulf Air’s first-class service for the cost of a Business Class ticket. Falcon Gold passengers will be able to enjoy Gulf Air’s multi award-winning Sky Chef service, previously exclusive to First Class passengers, in addition to a new amenity kit onboard.

In addition, Gulf Air, in collaboration with Deutsche Bahn, Germany, introduced free train transfers to Frankfurt airport from any of the Deutsche Bahn destinations throughout Germany, at no additional cost for its passengers.

Similarly, Gulf Air passengers travelling to and from London Heathrow can travel between Heathrow airport and Paddington station in Central London by Heathrow Express train service at a concessional rate.

Recently, the airline has introduced several online features and facilities for its customers; gulfair.com has become one of the most popular websites for customers with easy-to-use features and the safest online payment system and ‘lowest fares guaranteed’ promise. Similarly, passengers who want to purchase travel insurance can do so at the click of a button at gulfair.com. Insurance packages are available from as little as BHD5,800, offering generous insurance benefits against emergency medical expenses, personal accidents, loss of travel documents, missed or delayed departures and flight cancellations.

Gulf Air has also partnered with CarTrawler, one of the most popular car rental service providers in the market to offer the best deals online for Gulf Air passengers who can book a car hire around the world on the Gulf Air network with rentals from as little as BHDnine per day.

As the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Gulf Air continues to add value to the country’s business and tourism by playing a key role in its economic growth and prosperity, while promoting the Kingdom’s dynamic progress in the areas of business, sports, tourism as the ‘flying ambassador’ of the Kingdom across the globe.

Gulf Air has been the title sponsor of the Bahrain GrandPrix Formula One races since its first race in 2004,that has turned global attention to the Kingdom. Every year Gulf Air has been bringing thousands of motorsports lovers from across the globe to the Island nation to watch the annual sports extravaganza.

While proud of its past achievements and the current developments, the airline is looking ahead to the next sixty years and beyond with renewed sprit and commitment to serve the people and the economy of Bahrain and represent the Kingdom on the world stage with our new strategy.

The airline will continue with this momentum as its moves along implementing the new strategy to make the airline commercially viable by 2012. The aim is to make Gulf Air a business-friendly airline, providing a reliable, convenient, professional and value-driven service. It also aims to be a regional leader and the preferred choice for travel throughout the Gulf and Middle East, connecting more points throughout the region than its competitors.

The modern Golden Falcon image which Gulf Air sports now is a reflection of the personality of Gulf Air – bold, contemporary, innovative, entrepreneurial, and above all, a corporate statement that sets out the hallmark Arabian hospitality building on its strong geographic, historic and cultural links in the entire region.
As the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Gulf Air is proud of the fact that the regional, geographic and cultural values that the airline has embraced over the years are still central in defining the brand and service ethos within the contemporary and global environment.

As Gulf Air expands its operations to more destinations, it is aiming to be a business-friendly airline, providing a reliable, convenient, professional and value-driven service. It also aims to be a regional leader and the preferred choice for travel throughout the Gulf and Middle East, connecting more points throughout the region than its competitors.

Current issue