New routes will boost Gulf Air performance in the region, officials say

June 20, 2010
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Gulf Air officials have expressed confidence that the three new routes they launched this month would increase flight frequencies around the Middle East and help the airline improve its performance.

Gulf Air on June began nonstop service to Alexandria on June 2, followed by direct flights to Aleppo, Syria, on June 15 and to Medina in Saudi Arabia on June 17.

“These are new moves towards regaining our status as a regional and subsequently as an international hub,” Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Samer Majali said.

The two regional Embraer 170s were acquired by Bahrain’s flag-carrier as part of their major revamp. Gulf Air took delivery of the first aircraft earlier this year under a three-year dry-lease, with provision to extend for a further five.

However, keen on securing a high number of passengers, Gulf Air configured the two Embraer 170 jets with seven business-class and 60 economy-class seats, with in-flight entertainment.

Upon signing the deal in January, Majali said: “We are introducing a new concept in regional travel. The realignment and expansion of our regional and international network, and our fleet, will reinforce our position as the carrier with the largest number of Middle East connections through our Bahrain Airport hub. And to deliver this, we need aircraft that are flexible and can meet these demands.”

Majali said that Gulf Air would listen to feedback from its customers with a view to placing a larger regional jet order. The airline is looking at a long-term potential for up to 10 aircraft after it tests new markets.

Initial reactions seemed to support Majali’s orientations.

“The choice of Aleppo for instance was a wonderful idea because it means that passengers can reach northern Syria or southern Turkey more quickly and with less hassle,” Abdul Ridha Al Boustani, a Bahraini businessman, said. “The Embraer 170 was comfortable and smooth and I was able to close my deal in Southern Turkey quickly. I simply took a car to Turkey, 60 kilometres north of Aleppo, and everything was fine,” said the businessman who deals in fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nada Anees, a Syrian passenger, said in Manama that she was happy with the flight. “It was smooth and comfortable within a jovial atmosphere,” she said. “However, I suggest that Gulf Air should extend its flight into Dammam, in Saudi Arabia, because there are so many people in Aleppo who are looking for such possibilities,” she said.

At the launch of the flight to Medina, Majali said that he was glad that Gulf Air was “now able to fulfill the long-felt need of our customers especially as we welcome the Holy month of Ramadan in a few weeks.”

“The opening of Medina will further support and increase Gulf Air’s position as the carrier with the largest Middle East network, while at the same time, make it more convenient for our Muslim passengers to travel to Medina via Bahrain with the shortest possible connecting time,” Majali said.

According to the CEO, the addition of the Saudi city to the Gulf Air network was a new example of the long relationship with Bahrain’s neighbour.”

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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