Gulf Air is now in the midst of a three year re-organizational plan which will hopefully not only make the Bahrain state-owned airline more profitable but also more desirable as an airline with many choice destinations to choose from.
Bahrain Supports Expansion
According to chairman Talal al-Zain Gulf Air is planning new routes to Europe but also within the Middle East, with a special interest in major financial centers.
Al-Zain spoke from his office in Manama, explaining that the financial injection of BD400 million ($1.06 billion) last year from the government of Bahrain helped “very much” in the airlines reorganization efforts.
“Even though we are streamlining the airline, we wanted Gulf Air to reach more destinations,”
said al-Zain, who is also the chief executive officer of the Mumtalakat Holding Company. Mumtalakat is a sovereign wealth fund which owns the airline. Al-Zain added that Gulf Air is also seeking to add more flights on routes which they are already flying.
Oldest Gulf-State Airline
Gulf Air began flying back in the 1950s, making it one of the oldest airline companies in the Middle East. Originally owned in partnership between several Gulf States, eventually Bahrain became the sole owner as the neighboring Arab sheikhdoms withdrew their support and began to form their own airline carriers. Today Gulf Air faces steep competition from several new rival carriers in the region, such as Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
Al-Zain called Gulf Air a “challenging asset,” explaining that rising fuel prices and natural disasters can drastically affect the airline’s profits. Despite these challenges Gulf Air is also “one of the most important assets we have” added al-Zain, explaining that the airline is a major component in Bahrain’s general policy to boost interest by global players to begin to create headquarters or branches in the prosperous island nation.