Gulf Air

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Gulf Air
File:Gulf Air Logo 2018.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1950 (as Gulf Aviation)
HubsBahrain International Airport
Frequent-flyer programFalconflyer[1]
Fleet size36
Parent companyGulf Air Holding B.S.C
HeadquartersMuharraq, Bahrain
Key people
Gulf Air at Heathrow airport
First class in Gulf Air aircraft

Gulf Air is the national Carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is a subsidiary of Gulf Air Group Holding company, which also owns Bahrain Airport Company and Gulf Aviation Academy.

It started in 1950. It operates the largest network in the Middle East. The airline's current announced network stretches from Europe to Asia, connecting 58 places, with a fleet of 34 aircraft.

History[change | change source]

1949 - 1973: Gulf Aviation as operating company

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 the service and, on 24 March 1950, registered Gulf Aviation Company Limited as a private shareholding company. This makes Gulf Air, one of the oldest carriers in the Middle East. The early fleet contained seven Avro Ansons and three de Havilland DH 86B four-engine biplanes.

In October 1951, British Overseas Airways Corporation became a major shareholder in Gulf Aviation, holding a 22% stake through their subsidiary company BOAC Associated Companies.

1970s: Multinational Ownership

In 1973 the governments of the Emirate (now Kingdom) of Bahrain, the State of Qatar, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman agreed to purchase the BOAC Associated Companies holding in Gulf Aviation. The Foundation Treaty was signed on 1 January 1974 and gave each government a 25% shareholding in Gulf Aviation, which became a holding company. Gulf Air became the flag carrier for the four states.

With leased Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and Boeing 737 Aircraft joining the fleet, by 1976 Gulf Air had expanded its route network to include Amman, Amsterdam, Athens, Baghdad, Bombay, Bangkok, Beirut, Cairo, Colombo, Delhi, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Karachi, Khartoum, Larnaca, Manila, Paris, Ras Al-Khaimah and Sana'a. The fleet comprised four Vickers VC10, three BAC One-Elevens, two Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 200s, and five Boeing 737-200s. In 1978, the airline doubled the Tristar fleet to replace the VC10s. Meanwhile, the airline increased the Boeing 737 fleet to nine and phased out the One-Elevens.

1980s - 1992: Expansion

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 in Riyadh.

In 1985, Emirates, the startup national carrier of Dubai, began operating.

In 1988, Boeing 767s joined the fleet and the airline launched services to Frankfurt, Istanbul, Damascus, Dar Es Salam, Fujairah, and Nairobi, and resumed their services to Shiraz and Baghdad.

The original Gulf Air livery consisted of a white fuselage with three stripes: Maroon, brown, green and red with a golden falcon on the three-striped tail fin. This livery was used in the following Gulf Air airlines: Lockheed L1011-200 Tristar (1976), Boeing 737-200 (1977), Boeing 767-300ER (1988), Airbus A320-200 (1992), Airbus A340-300 (1994), and Airbus A330-200 (1999).

Gulf Air celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1990. The light-blue and peach Balenciaga-designed uniform was introduced. Services to Singapore, Sydney and Thiruvananthapuram were launched, Gulf Air was the first Arab airline to fly to Australia. It added services to Johannesburg and Melbourne in 1992, becoming the first Arab airline to fly to directly to these cities. in 1993, it opened a flight-simulator center in Qatar and introduced services to Casablanca, Entebbe, Jakarta, Kilimanjaro, Madras, Rome, Zanzibar and Zurich.

1993 - 2005: New livery and destinations

In May 1994, Gulf Air received its first Airbus A340-300. Two months later, the carrier began flights to New York City using an A340. It also served Houston from 1995 to 1996. The Gulf Air website opened in January 1997, and New York left the network the following month. A no-smoking policy was established in 1998 on flights to Singapore and Australia, which was later extended through its whole network. In 1999, it launched three new routes in Northern Pakistan: Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. It also took delivery of two out of six Airbus A330-200 Aircraft and introduced a new Balmain Uniform.

In 2000, the airline celebrated its 50th anniversary. It took delivery of the remaining Airbus A330-200 Aircraft in June and launched services to Milan.

In May 2002, James Hogan became president and CEO and instigated a restructuring and turnaround program in response to a drastic fall in profits and increasing debt.

On 1 August 2002, Qatar announced its intentions to withdraw from Gulf Air to focus on its own national airline Qatar Airways. The state remained a member state for a six-month period after announcing the intention to withdraw.

In 2003, Gulf Air introduced a new Landor Associates-designed gold and blue livery and, in June, established Gulf Traveler, a subsidiary, all-economy, full-service airline. It also announced a sponsorship deal for the Bahrain Grand Prix through 2010, creating the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, of which the first was staged in 2004. The airline also introduced daily flights to Athens and Sydney via Singapore on 23 November 2003.

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

Gulf Air was also placed on IATA's Operational Safety Audit registry.

2006-2009: Full ownership by Bahrain

The new summer schedule commencing 28 April 2006 saw the complete withdrawal from Abu Dhabi as a hub, following the decision on 13 September 2005 by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to withdraw from Gulf Air and establish UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways. Gulf Air changed its operations to a dual-hub basis between Bahrain and Muscat airports. The airline ran a series of advertisements in local newspapers, thanking Abu Dhabi for its contribution to Gulf Air. As the National Carrier for the United Arab Emirates for over 35 years, it had a large customer base located in Abu Dhabi. Gulf Air endeavored to show continuing support for flights to Abu Dhabi from Bahrain and Muscat, connecting to the rest of the Gulf Air network, via advertisements placed in local newspapers.

On 5 May 2007, the government of Bahrain claimed full ownership of the airline. On the 6th of November 2008, Gulf Air started its third daily non-stop flight to London Heathrow Airport from Bahrain. On 3 July 2008, Gulf Air was announced as the official sponsor of London Association Football Club, Queen Park Rangers. The same year, Gulf Air signed a lease agreement for five aircraft with international Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) as part of its growth and expansion strategy.

2010s: Restructuring

On 1 March 2010, Gulf Air launched its new 'Falcon Gold' cabin, a single premium cabin merging business and first class together, aimed at offering higher standards of comfort for the standard premium price. As of August 2011, the new Flat Beds were installed on all aircrafts except short-haul aircrafts.

In November 2012, Gulf Air phased out its last Airbus A340-300.

At the Bahrain International Air show in January 2016, Gulf Air ordered 17 A321neo and 12 A320neo aircraft for delivery from June 2018. It also announced a restructured order for 16 Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The new order of 16 Boeing 787-9 aircraft replaced an existing order for 16 of the smaller Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

In February 2018, Gulf Air revealed its new livery. It consisted of an all-white fuselage with a smaller golden falcon on the tail and with dark blue Gulf Air titles.[5]

Awards & Accolades[change | change source]

June 2023:- Gulf Air wins AFJ Global Award.

January 2022:- Gulf Air has received the Coveted Skytrax Five Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating after an audit by Skytrax Research.

May 2022:- Gulf Air at Changi Airline Awards ceremony won the "Connectivity Award".

September 2022- Gulf Air was the winner of the World's Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022.

May 2017:- Gulf Air was honored for its support in developing signlent, the first instant messaging mobile application in the region exclusively designed to serve the hard of hearing, at an "Injaz Bahrain Ceremony".

November 2016:- Gulf Air received the "Technology Innovation of the year" at the Aviation Business Awards. - "Hospitality and Tourism Deployment of the year" at the seventh annual Compute News Middle East (CNME) ICT Achievement Award. - "Best Airline in Technology-Middle East" at the Global Enterprise Connect (GEC) Awards.

November 2011- Gulf Air wins Best Airline Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Products[change | change source]

Gulf Air was the first Middle East Airline to launch a fully-fledged passenger loyalty program in December 1994.

"Falcon Lounge" at the Bahrain International Airport is three times bigger than the facility in the older terminal and includes an outdoor terrace. There is room for 400 passengers at any time.

References[change | change source]

  1. "About Falconflyer". Gulf Air.
  2. "Gulf Air on ch-aviation". ch-aviation. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  3. "Board of Directors". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  4. "Jeffrey Goh - DCEO". Gulf Air. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  5. "Gulf Air History". Gulf Air. Gulf Air. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015.