Gulf Air launches three new flights amid positive corporate trends

August 4, 2010
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Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, on Wednesday said that it was launching flights to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Basra in Iraq and Isfahan in Iran.

Samer Majali, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer, said that the services to the new destinations that also include previously announced Aden and Colombo will be rolled out from September to coincide with the airline’s winter schedule.

Gulf Air will begin services to Isfahan from October 30 with three weekly services while services to Aden via Sana’a and Colombo will start on October 31 with five weekly services. Basra service will also be launched on 31 October with three weekly services. Addis Ababa will be served from December 6 with five weekly services.

“The launching of these five new destinations demonstrates our new strategy to identify and serve niche and under-served markets and, create potentially high yield city-pairs by providing direct service to Bahrain and beyond,” said Majali. “While none of the Gulf carriers are serving Aden and Basra at present, cities like Addis Ababa and Isafahan are unexplored markets with Colombo being a popular tourist destination that is not linked from Bahrain since 2002. We believe there is a strong commercial potential in all these cities and we hope these routes also will be successful like the other six routes that we recently launched,” he said at a Press conference.

Gulf Air also launched its winter schedule at the meeting with the media.

“The new winter schedule reflects one of the main objectives of our new strategy – to serve every regional capital with at least a double-daily service and generate a new market of travelers who wish to conduct their business in the region and return home the same day,” Majali said.

“Currently passengers can fly to the GCC destinations of Abu Dhabi, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait and Muscat, conduct their business and return home in the same day with a number of flight options. We have taken this concept further in our new winter schedule by offering three times a week same day return flights to Riyadh, Jeddah, Beirut, Cairo and two times a week same day return flights to Amman and Damascus in addition to the daily flights to these cities.”

The winter schedule will bring the number of flights in the region per week to 644 from last year’s flights of 528.”

“Another core element of our new strategy is to strengthen our international network and connect customers with seamless onward connections via Bahrain with least possible waiting time. As such we have made several improvements in our winter timetable; the frequency to and from Kathmandu have been increased from nine to 11 per week  while  new split timings have been introduced on Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok routes to provide better  connectivity for our Europe flights to connect to these two cities via Bahrain.”

Majali, in comments on the airline’s new strategy, said that the new business strategy rolled out last November is moving on the right track.

“I am glad to say that we have been able to make some notable achievements despite the challenges posed by the economic recession and other natural causes such as the recent volcano ash cloud incident,” he said. “In the last 13 months we have launched services to 11 new destinations; this is something that we are proud of; we have not opened so many routes in such a short timeframe since 1976. We had to suspend four routes that were no longer commercially viable for the airline and did not reflect customer needs.”

Gulf Air’s Technical Dispatch Reliability has reached an average of 99.1% during the last six months while the airline has improved upon its on-time punctuality (OTP) by 4%- from 69% to 73%.

“Our OTP is based on the scheduled time of departure unlike normal industry standard time of departure plus fifteen minutes; this is a demonstration of how we push ourselves to provide service to our customers on time every time,” he said.

“We took delivery of ten brand new aircraft – 8 A320s and 2 E170s  and phased out nine older planes – 5 leased A320s and 4 A340s, reducing our fleet’s average age by four years- from 11.7 years to 7.8 years. By the end of next month two additional aircraft – E190s will be joining our fleet and three more older aircraft will be phased out further reducing the average age of our fleet to 6.8 years. In the next three years 13 more new aircraft will join our fleet reducing the average age to just 4.1 years making Gulf Air’s fleet one of the youngest in the region.”

According to Al Majali, Gulf Air has optimized its fleet network efficiency and has made a saving on 15% on its fuel consumption during the first six months of the year.

“Our overall costs have also been reduced by 3% through actively rationalizing all cost elements of the business and curtailing expenditure that does not add value to our customers and the business.”

He said that Gulf Air has successfully reduced its current staff by just under 1000 in the last twelve months whilst at the same time its efforts to encourage and employ more Bahrainis are paying off.

“Our overall Bahrainisation level has reached 52% in Bahrain. We have been aggressive in driving efficiencies and matching capacity to demand; as a result our yield and our fleet utilization has improved with our seat factor growth registering a healthy 7% growth, from 66.1% to 72.8% compared with the same period last year,” he said.

         

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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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