Gulf Air: Wikis


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Gulf Air
Founded 1950
Hubs Bahrain International Airport
Frequent flyer program Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme
Member lounge Gulf Air Lounge
Fleet size 36 (+59 orders)
Destinations 45
Company slogan "Guaranteed To Make You Smile"
Headquarters Muharraq, Bahrain
Key people Samer Majali, CEO
Talal Al-Zain , Chairman

Gulf Air (Arabic: طيران الخليجṬayarān al-Khalīj) is the main flag carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Headquartered in Muharraq,[1] the airline operates scheduled services to 45 destinations in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. Its main base is Bahrain International Airport.[2] The company's logo features a golden falcon. Gulf Air's most popular destinations include London, Paris, Dubai and Mumbai.

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 Programs.




1940-1992: A Booming & New Beginning

Gulf Air Airbus A319 commemorating the Bahrain Grand Prix at Muscat International Airport
A Gulf Air Vickers VC-10 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (1977)

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.[3] 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.[2] 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.[2]

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 VC10, 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 Thiruvananthapuram 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.

1993-2005: New Livery & Destinations

A Gulf Air Airbus A340-312 taxiing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (2005)
A Gulf Air Airbus A340-312 in special 50th anniversary livery. (2005)

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.

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. 1 June 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 recapitalization 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).

2006-2008: Bahrain Takes Over

A Gulf Air Airbus A330-243 departs London Heathrow Airport, England. (2006)

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.[3] 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 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 doubled its frequency to Thailand in July 2006, with 14 flights a week between Bahrain and Thailand.

A Gulf Air Airbus A340-313 departs London Heathrow Airport, England. (2007)

James Hogan resigned his position as President and Chief Executive Officer (PCE) as of 1 October 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 over on 1 April 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 as CEO by Bjorn Naf.

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

The airline inaugurated services to Shanghai Pudong International Airport on 16 June 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 Boeing 767 flight was on 29 May 2008 and the aircraft was flown to Dublin on 30 May 2008; two of the Boeing 767 aircraft are now in storage at Bournemouth Airport.

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

Gulf Air signed in 2008 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 (delivered in September 2008) and three Airbus A330-200 (due for delivery in March, April and May 2009).

2009-present: Change In The Airline/New CEO

In March 2009, Gulf Air signed a 42-month lease agreement with Jet Airways for 4 Boeing B777-300ER aircraft. The first 6 months of the term were for a wet-lease arrangement (Jet Airways pilots with Gulf Air cabin crew) to be followed by a 36-months dry-lease (all Gulf Air crew). However, the dry-lease portion of the agreement was cancelled in May 2009 and the aircraft were returned to Jet Airways starting in September 2009.

Gulf Air announced in March 2009 the suspension of service to three Indian destinations that month: Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. (Bangalore and Hyderbad have resumed)

In May 2009, Gulf Air inaugurated summer seasonal flights to Alexandria, Aleppo & Salalah.

Starting from June 2009, Gulf Air's Golden Falcon logo will be on the streets of London, emblazoned on the side of the city's taxi cabs, as part a two-year marketing deal. Fifty Hackney Carriages will be rolled out in full Gulf Air livery to promote the airline's flights from London Heathrow to Bahrain and beyond.[4]

On 15 June 2009 at the Paris Air Show, Gulf Air selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 700EP engine to power an additional 20 Airbus A330s that it is to start receiving in 2012. Rolls-Royce will provide 44 Trent 700EPs, including four spares, to the airline, which already has Trents on its 10 A330-200s in service. [5]

In late June 2009 Gulf Air announced the departure of CEO Bjorn Naf and the appointment of Samer Majali (who worked previously for Royal Jordanian) as CEO effective 1 August 2009.

On 1 September 2009, Gulf Air resumed flights to Baghdad. [6] Service to Najaf will begin 26 September and Erbil will begin on 26 October.

Gulf Air are planning to sell five of their Airbus A340-300, and lease the other four.[7][8] Two have already been sold for spare parts, registrations A9C-LC and -LB. A9C-LC has had its tail logo and title removed.

Gulf Air, on the 1st of March, will be launching its new "Falcon Gold" cabin, a single premium cabin that is aimed at offering higher standards of comfort for the usual price. Temporarily, the same seats will be used until a new-state-of-the-art flat bed seat is launched soon.


Gulf Air flies to 45 international destinations in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe from its hub at Bahrain International Airport.[9]

Codeshare agreements

Gulf Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:


Gulf Air Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers
Entry Into Service
Airbus A319-100 2 124 (0/16/108) In Service
Airbus A320-200 12 9 136 (0/16/120) In Service
Airbus A321-200 2 170 (0/20/150) In Service
Airbus A330-200 10 215 (8/24/183)
250 (0/42/208)
274 (0/16/258)
In Service
Airbus A330-300 20 TBA 2011
Airbus A340-300 4 249 (8/24/217) In Service
Boeing 787-8 24 TBA 2012
Embraer 175 2 - 67 (0/7/60) In Service
Total 30 61


Gulf Traveller

"Gulf Traveller" was the all-economy full service subsidiary airline of Gulf Air. Its main base was Abu Dhabi International Airport.[2] It was briefly relocated between Bahrain and Muscat airports after Abu Dhabi pulled out of the Gulf Air consortium in 2005, and in May 2007 Oman also pulled out of the group leaving Bahrain as sole owner of Gulf Air. Gulf Traveller has since been disbanded due to these changes.


Gulf Air sponsors events, of which the most prestigious is the 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 have also recently become sponsors 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.

Incidents and accidents

  • 23 Aug 2000: Gulf Air Flight 072 crashed into the Persian Gulf on approach to Bahrain International Airport from Cairo. The A320 with 143 passengers and crew on board approached the landing at higher speeds than normal and carried out an unusual low altitude orbit in an attempt to correct the approach.[13][14] The orbit was unsuccessful and a go-around was attempted. While carrying out a turning climb the aircraft entered a descent at 15 degrees nose down. The aircrew did not respond to repeated GPWS warnings[15] and approximately one minute after starting the go-around the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.[16] There were no survivors. 36 children were on the aircraft [1]. The accident investigation concluded that the primary cause of the crash was pilot error (including spatial disorientation), with a secondary factor being systemic organizational and oversight issues.[17] Flight 072 was the the highest death toll of any accident involving an Airbus A320 at that time. It was subsequently surpassed by TAM Airlines Flight 3054, which crashed on 17 July 2007 with 199 fatalities.


  1. ^ Summers, Mark. "'It's business as usual' at Gulf Air." Gulf Daily News. Wednesday 25 July 2007. Retrieved on 24 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Flight International 3 April 2007
  3. ^ a b "Gulf Air adds new routes to China and India; increasing capacity to Europe this winter". 03/10/08. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Route Map
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Gulf Times, Qatar, (24 September 1983)
  12. ^ -> News -> World -> Abu Nidal behind 1983 Gulf Air bombing: Aide
  13. ^ "Airbus A320 A40-EK accident record". Aviation Safety Network. "..significantly higher than standard aircraft speeds during the descent and the first approach... ...performing an orbit, a non-standard manoeuvre, close to the runway at low altitude".." 
  14. ^ Civil Aviation Authority of Bahrain. [ "ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT Gulf Air Flight GF-072"]. 
  15. ^ Civil Aviation Authority of Bahrain. [*/ "ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT Gulf Air Flight GF-072"].*/ "4b. The analysis of FDR and CVR recordings indicated that neither the captain nor the first officer perceived, or effectively responded to, the threat of the aircraft's increasing proximity to the ground in spite of repeated hard GPWS warnings..." 
  16. ^ Bureau Enquetes-Accidents. "Airbus A320 A4O-EK accident record - Graphic - A40-EK Flight Path dervied from Lat and Long FDR Parameters". Aviation Safety Network. 
  17. ^ "Airbus A320 A4O-EK accident record". Aviation Safety Network. "The investigation showed that no single factor was responsible for the accident to GF-072. The accident was the result of a fatal combination of many contributory factors, both at the individual and systemic levels." 

External links

Simple English

Gulf Air is an airline based in the Middle East. They operate scheduled flights in the Middle East and international flights.


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