Gulf Air

Gulf Air

Infobox Airline
airline = Gulf Air
طيران الخليج

image_size = 200
callsign = GULF AIR
founded = 1950
commenced =
ceased =
hubs = Bahrain International Airport
secondary_hubs =
focus_cities =
frequent_flyer = Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme
lounge = First and Business Class Lounge (no member lounges)
alliance =
subsidiaries =
fleet_size = 31 (59 orders)
destinations = 41
parent =
company_slogan =
headquarters = Manama, Bahrain
key_people = Talal Al-Zain , Chairman
website =

Gulf Air ( _ar. طيران الخليج) is the flag carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The airline operates scheduled services to over 40 destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Far East. Its main base is Bahrain International Airport.Flight International 3 April 2007] The company's logo features a golden falcon.

The airline is not part of an airline alliance but is part of the oneworld global explorer fare. It has extensive codeshare services with other airlines and special partnerships with Jet Airways and Oman Air's Frequent Flyer Programmes.


In the late 1940s, Freddie Bosworth (a British pilot and entrepreneur) began an air taxi service to Doha and Dhahran from Bahrain. Bosworth later expanded this service and on the 24 March 1950, he registered Gulf Aviation as a private share-holding company, making it one of the oldest carriers in the Middle East. [cite news| url=| title=Gulf Air adds new routes to China and India; increasing capacity to Europe this winter| date=03/10/08|] Seven Avro Ansons and 3 De Havilland DH.86B 4-engine biplanes formed the fleet, but more modern aircraft were needed. Bosworth chose the De Havilland Dove but while preparing to introduce the type into service he was killed on a demonstration flight at Croydon on 9 June 1951.

In October 1951 British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) became a major shareholder in Gulf Aviation, holding a 22% stake. Gulf Aviation began services to London in April 1970 with a Vickers VC10 and, with the introduction of BOAC, saw a succession of updated aircraft entering the fleet.

The turning point for Gulf Aviation came in 1973 when the governments of the Kingdom of Bahrain, State of Qatar, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman purchased BOAC's shares in Gulf Aviation. The Foundation Treaty signed on 1 January 1974 gave each government a 25% shareholding in the re-branded Gulf Air, which became the national carrier for the four states in the Persian Gulf. Later that year, the airline's support of oil exploration resulted in the establishment of the wholly owned Gulf Helicopters subsidiary.

With leased Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and Boeing 737s joining the fleet, by 1976 Gulf Air had expanded its route network to include: Amman, Amsterdam, Athens, Baghdad, Bangkok, Beirut, Cairo, Colombo, Delhi, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Khartoum, Larnaca, Manila, Paris, Ras al-Khaimah and San‘a’. The fleet comprised 4 Vickers VC10s, 3 BAC One-Elevens, 2 Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 200s, and 5 Boeing 737-200s. Two years later the Tristar fleet had doubled, replacing the VC10s, and the Boeing 737s had increased to 9, resulting in the phasing out of the One-Elevens.

The 1980s saw an increase in air travel and growth for Gulf Air. In 1981 Gulf Air became an IATA member and in the following year became the first international airline to land at Riyadh. In 1988 the Boeing 767s joined the fleet and services to Frankfurt, Istanbul, Damascus, Dar es Salaam, Fujairah and Nairobi were launched, with services to Shiraz and Baghdad resumed.

Gulf Air celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1990 . The light blue and peach Balenciaga-designed uniform was introduced. Singapore, Sydney and Trivandrum were launched and Gulf Air became the first Arab airline to fly to Australia. Gulf Air added Johannesburg and Melbourne to its network (1992), becoming the first Arab airline to fly directly to these cities. The following year it opened up a Flight Simulator Centre in Qatar. The same year saw the introduction of services to Casablanca, Entebbe, Jakarta, Kilimanjaro, Madras, Rome, San'a', Zanzibar, and Zürich.

In May 1994, Gulf Air received its first Airbus A340-300. Gulf Air introduced a no-smoking policy on flights to Singapore and Australia in 1998 which later extended throughout its whole network. In 1999 , Gulf Air also launched three new routes in North Pakistan: Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar. It also took delivery of two (out of six) Airbus A330-200 aircraft and a new Balmain uniform was introduced.

21st century

In 2000 the airline celebrated its 50th anniversary. It took delivery of the remaining Airbus A330-200 aircraft in June of that year, and launched services to Milan. In May 2002 James Hogan became President and CEO of Gulf Air and instigated a three year restructuring and turnaround programme, which was launched in response to a drastic fall in profits at the company and ever-increasing debt. The Gulf Air Board unanimously approved the three-year recovery plan at the Extraordinary General Meeting held on 18 December. This month also saw the withdrawal of the State of Qatar from Gulf Air. In 2003 Gulf Air introduced a new Landor Associates designed livery. June 1 2003 saw the establishment of Gulf Traveller, a subsidiary all-economy full-service airline.

Gulf Air also announced a sponsorship deal for the Bahrain Grand Prix which will last until 2010 . This deal created the Gulfair Bahrain Grand Prix, of which the first was staged in 2004. Gulf Air also introduced direct daily flights to Athens and Sydney, via Singapore, on 23 November 2003.

In 2004, Gulf Air introduced direct flights between Dubai and London and Muscat and London, and a daily service between Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah and carried a record 7.5 million passengers during this year. Gulf Air's sponsorship of the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix continued, with a record race crowd and a global TV audience.

A return to profit was announced, with the best financial performance since 1997 . Despite a BD30 million (US$80 million) cost to the business through fuel price rises during the year, Gulf Air recorded a profit of BD1.5 million (US$4.0 million) in the calendar year to December 2004, on revenues up 23.8% to BD476.3 million (US$1.26 billion) (2003: BD 384.6 million / USD1,020.2 million). The results meant the airline out-performed the targets set under Project Falcon, the three-year restructuring plan approved by the Board in December 2002.

The owner states of Gulf Air at that time - the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman - confirmed their support for further expansion of the airline, through a new three-year strategic plan which would include re-equipment of the aircraft fleet and recapitalisation of the business through private sector financing. Gulf Air was also placed on the IOSA registry following its successful completion of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA).

The new summer schedule commencing 28 April 2006 saw the complete withdrawal of Abu Dhabi as a hub following the decision on the 13 September 2005, by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, to withdraw from Gulf Air and establish its own airline, Etihad Airways. [cite news| url=| title=Gulf Air adds new routes to China and India; increasing capacity to Europe this winter| date=03/10/08|] Gulf Air changed its operations to a dual hub basis between Bahrain and Muscat airports. The airline produced a series of adverts in local newspapers thanking Abu Dhabi for its contribution to Gulf Air. Due to the airline being the national carrier for the United Arab Emirates for over 35 years, it has a large customer base located in Abu Dhabi. Gulf Air endeavoured to show the continuing support for flights to Abu Dhabi from Bahrain and Muscat, connecting to the rest of the Gulf Air network, via adverts placed in local newspapers.

Gulf Air has an aircraft simulator facility at its Bahrain Headquarters. The BD5.5 million facility will offer real-time, simulated on-board training to pilots on Boeing 767, Airbus A320 family aircraft and A330/340 in three flight simulators.

On the 27 April 2006, the Governments of Bahrain and Thailand signed an 'Open Skies' agreement which allowed an unlimited and unrestricted number of flights between the two nations. Gulf Air operates daily flights to Bangkok from Bahrain, with four flights a week from Muscat. With this new agreement in place, Gulf Air will double its frequency to Thailand by July 2006, with 14 flights a week between Bahrain and Thailand.

James Hogan resigned his position as President and Chief Executive Officer (PCE) as of October 1, 2006, and has since taken the position of CEO at rival airline Etihad. Ahmed Al Hammadi was named acting CEO until Swiss national André Dosé (former CEO of Crossair and Swiss International Air Lines) took on April 1 2007. A few days later, he announced a BD310 million (USD825 million) restructuring plan which included: all flights originate from or arrive at Bahrain; routes to Johannesburg, Dublin, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney cancelled; withdrawal of the nine Boeing 767 from the fleet; phased withdrawal of the Airbus A340-300 from the fleet; introduction of the Airbus A321 in July 2007 and of the Airbus A330-300 in 2009 and layoffs that will not differentiate between employees' nationalities but will be solely performance-based. This led to some employees applying for jobs in other airlines, and in less than a month Gulf Air lost 500 persons from its workforce. This rapid decline of personnel required a senior official to state that "Gulf Air will not be sacking any staff under its recovery plan, but it will be weeding out those who don't do their jobs". The airline is aiming at cutting its workforce by 25 percent through people leaving naturally or accepting voluntary early retirement packages, and the company has a recruitment freeze.

On 6 May 2007, the government of Bahrain claimed 100% ownership of the airline as joint-owner Oman withdrew from the airline. André Dosé resigned on 23 July 2007 and was replaced by CEO Bjorn Naf and COO Christopher Cain.

On 6 November 2007, Gulf Air announced the third daily non-stop flight to London Heathrow Airport from Bahrain. On the same day, Gulf Air became 100% Bahrain-owned.

The airline is scheduled to inaugurate services to Shanghai Pudong International Airport on June 16, 2008 and Hyderabad International Airport on July 1, 2008 and has placed orders with Boeing (for 24 B787s) and Airbus (for 15 A320s and 20 A330s) to upgrade its fleet.

The last commercial B767 flight was on May 29, 2008 and the aircraft was flown to Dublin on May 30, 2008.

On 3 July 2008, Gulf Air was announced as the official sponsor of upcoming English football club, Queens Park Rangers.

Gulf Air has recently signed a lease agreement for five aircraft with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) as part of the airline's growth and expansion strategy. The lease is for six years for two Airbus A319-100 (due for delivery in September 2008) and three Airbus A330-200s (due for delivery in March, April and May 2009).



The Gulf Air fleet includes the following aircraft (as of 12 September 2008) [] :

On 21 January 2008, Gulf Air finalized a deal with Boeing for 16 Boeing 787s with a further 8 purchase rights.

On 28 May 2008, Gulf Air placed a firm order with Airbus for 35 jetliners worth $5.17 billion at list price. The order is for 15 single-aisle A320-series planes and 20 A330-300 widebodies. [ [ Airbus says Gulf Air has ordered 35 planes, including 15 A320s and 20 A330-300s - International Herald Tribune ] ]

On 4 September 2008, Gulf Air converted its 8 787 options into orders, bringing their number up to 24. This was during a visit from the Bahraini Crown Prince to Seattle, where he was greeted by Boeing officials.

The average age of the Gulf Air fleet was 12.1 years as at May 2008. [ [ Gulf Air Fleet age] ]

Frequent Flyer Programme

In 2003, Gulf Air launched the Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP), replacing the Falcon Frequent Flyer programme. The frequent flyer programme also won four awards at the 17th Annual Freddie Awards. These awards are decided by frequent travellers.

:*1st Place - Best Award Redemption, Frequent Flyer Programme, Europe/Middle East/Africa:*1st Place - Best Customer Service, Frequent Flyer Programme, Europe/Middle East/Africa:*1st Place - Best Award, Frequent Flyer Programme, Europe/Middle East/Africa:*1st Place - Best Website, Frequent Flyer Programme, Europe/Middle East/Africa

Gulf Air offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:

* Cathay Pacific
* Jet Airways
* Oman Air
* Virgin Atlantic Airways
* Zee Air

Gulf Air also offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following car rental agencies:

* Dollar Rent A Car
* Hertz
* Sixt Rent A Car
* Thrifty Car Rental

Program levels

Gulf Air FFP members are entitled to the following benefits listed below. These benefits do not apply to Family Members.
* Blue Card
** 10 kg Extra Baggage Allowance
** Personal Baggage Tags


Codeshare agreements


* [ Gulf Air Cargo]

Gulf Traveller

The company's all Economy class airline Gulf Traveller ceased operations in April 2007. The airline's operations became unprofitable following the pull out of Abu Dhabi followed by Oman, the restructuring of Gulf Air, and the phasing out of its 767 fleet as well as some other types.


* [ Gulf Air Hotels]
* [ Gulf Air Cars]


Gulf Air sponsors events, of which the most prestigious is the Gulfair Bahrain Grand Prix. This is usually the third race of the Formula One season and is held in March or April of each year. They havew also recently become sponsers of the English football Championship side Queens Park Rangers F.C.Gulf Air also signed a sponsorship with the Oman national football team in 2006.


Before 2003 the livery was predominantly white with a small golden falcon at the tail on a background of red, green and maroon stripes which represented the original four owner states of the Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.Since 2003 the livery has been fully gold at the front with white at the rear and a large redesigned falcon at the tail. In April 2008 Gulf Air announced that it has brought in UK-based design consultancy James Park Associates to redesign all aircraft interiors, its logo, uniforms and passenger lounges, as well as make changes to in-flight entertainment systems. [ [ FLUG REVUE June 2003: Gulf Air reshapes its image ] ]

Fleet refurbishment and expansion

Gulf Air is currently looking to lease additional wide-body long-haul capacity and will be adding three former MEA A330s to its fleet in early 2009. It has also placed orders for A330s and B787s as well as awaiting delivery on 20 further A320s. [ 3rd October 2008 article [] ]

A330 Interior refurbishment

The A330 aircraft refurbishment was completed in June 2005. All A330 aircraft now have the Gulf Air Sky Beds in First and Business Class Cabins.

:*The [First Class] cabin seating configuration is 1-2-1 and accommodates 8 passengers. It has an 80-inch pitch and 25-inch width bed with 180-degree recline. The Class 180 seat also converts to a full size bed. Individual screen size: 15-inch.

:*The Business Class cabin seating configuration is 2-2-2 and accommodates 24 passengers. It has an 63-inch pitch and 24-inch width bed with 163-degree recline. Individual screen size: 10.4-inch.

:*The Economy Class cabin seating configuration is 2-4-2 and accommodates 183 passengers. It has a 32-34-inch pitch and 18-inch seat width with 102-degree recline. Individual screen size: 6.5-inch.

A340 Interior refurbishment

The refurbishment of part of the A340 fleet was completed in August 2006. The A340-312 (Version A) aircraft still have not been refurbished although all A340-300 aircraft now have the Gulf Air Sky Beds in First and Business Class Cabins.

A340-300 Details (Version B)

:*The First Class cabin seating configuration is 1-2-1 and accommodates 8 passengers. It has an 80-inch pitch and 25-inch width bed with 180-degree recline. The Class 180 seat also converts to a full size bed. Individual screen size: 15-inch.

:*The Business Class cabin seating configuration is 2-2-2 and accommodates 24 passengers. It has an 73-inch pitch and 24-inch width bed with 169-degree recline. Individual screen size: 10.4-inch.

:*The Economy Class cabin seating configuration is 2-4-2 and accommodates 217 passengers. It has a 32-34-inch pitch and 18-inch seat width with 102-degree recline. Individual screen size: 6.5-inch.

Incidents and accidents

23 September 1983 [ [ PBS - Chasing the Sun - Lockheed L1011 ] ] :*Location: Near Mina Jebel Ali, UAE:*Flight #: GF771:*Route: Karachi - Abu Dhabi:*Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-2P6:*Registration: A4O-BK:*Aboard: 112 (passengers:107 crew:5):*Fatalities: 112 (passengers:107 crew:5):*Summary: The aircraft crashed into the desert after a distress message and during an emergency landing attempt. This was due to the detonation of an explosive device in the baggage compartment.

23 August 2000 [ [ Airbus A320 A4O-EK accident record - Aviation Safety Network] ]

:*Location: Coast of Manama, Bahrain:*Flight #: GF072:*Route: Cairo - Bahrain:*Aircraft Type: Airbus A320-212:*Registration: A4O-EK:*Aboard: 143 (passengers:135 crew:8):*Fatalities: 143 (passengers:135 crew:8):*Summary: The aircraft crashed into the Persian Gulf while attempting to land at Bahrain International Airport. The crew decided to perform a missed approach after it was determined the aircraft was coming in too high and fast. Instructions were given for a 180 degree turn and climb to 2,500 feet. While performing the missed approach the plane suddenly descended rapidly from an altitude of 1,000 feet and crashed into the shallow waters of the gulf approximately 1 mile from the airport.


* [ Gulf Daily News]
* [ Trade Arabia]
* [ AAK News] (in Arabic)
* [ Gulf Daily News]
* [ Gulf Daily News]
* [ Gulf Daily News]

External links

* [ Gulf Air official website]
* [ Gulf Air travel update]
* [ Gulf Life inflight magazine]

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