Gulf Air is back in good shape and is set to stay that way, according to the airline’s president and chief executive James Hogan.
Speaking at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London last month, Hogan said that the airline was on track to meet its financial targets for the year despite regional instability and the impact of the SARS outbreak earlier this year.
A ‘world first’ Sky Nanny service, fleet expansion, new destinations and a sponsorship deal with the Formula One event to be held in Bahrain next year add to the sense of optimism at the airline, which recently announced a record third quarter performance. Gulf Air is in the first year of a three-year strategic recovery programme.
During the third quarter of this year, a record 1,811,232 passengers flew on Gulf Air flights, which operated with an average load factor of 73.5 per cent, according to the airline. This is 17.4 per cent up on figures for the same period last year.
“We’re repositioning Gulf Air as a world-class airline,” Hogan told visitors to Gulf Air’s stand at the WTM. “We are very excited about the future and the new products and services we are introducing.
“The Sky Chef concept has already proved a big success, as has the launch of (all-economy airline) Gulf Traveller. We’re now the first airline in the world to launch a Sky Nanny service, which is part of our commitment to enhancing the family travel concept,” he said.
The Sky Nanny service was introduced on Gulf Air’s inaugural flight to Sydney last month. Operating its fleet of Airbus A340-300 out of Bahrain, the airline is offering a three-class code share service with Olympic Airways on flights to the Australian city via Singapore. Gulf Air has also launched non-stop daily services between Athens and Bahrain on Airbus A320 to give passengers from Greece a brief connection of just over an hour to the Sydney flight.
Hogan said the schedule offers passengers from the Gulf and Mediterranean countries the shortest, most convenient choice of flights to and from Australia, providing good connections to Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, Larnaca, Tehran, Istanbul and the Gulf.
“There is enormous potential for growth in trade and tourism between Australia and the Gulf. By providing stable air links, Gulf Air will play a vital role in facilitating and supporting this process,” he said.
By MARK LAZELL
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