Gulf Air growth could be on the cards following a hint from the company’s CEO. There had been a plan to retire the company’s A330s following the arrival of new B787-9 aircraft.
Gulf Air is the flag carrier of Bahrain. The airline’s fleet currently comprises of 33 aircraft, with 6 of these being A330 aircraft. The new B787 aircraft which are being delivered will be the only Boeing aircraft in the fleet. However the airline has previously operated many different types of Boeing aircraft including the B737 and B777.
Gulf Air operates an expansive route network. The airline currently flies to 50 international destinations. These are spread among 27 countries. The shortest flight the airline offers is just 85km taking only 35 minutes from Bahrain to Dammam. In contrast, the airline’s longest flight is 87 times longer at 7377km. This flight operates from Bahrain to Manila, and is one of the routes operated by the A330. Other A330 routes used to include London, and Casablanca, however these have already transitioned to the B787.
“We’re still in the process of final evaluation about our A330 fleet. If a decision is taken to keep them then, of course, we will include a retrofit of the cabin.” – Gulf Air CEO, Kresimir Kucko
The plan had been for Gulf Air to replace its fleet of 6 A330 aircraft with the 12 B787 aircraft it had ordered. It seems as though the CEO of Gulf Air now has other ideas. Rather than retiring the A330s and having a net growth of 6 aircraft, the airline could keep the aircraft meaning their fleet grows by 12. This would allow the airline to ramp up its operations, potentially opening new routes across the globe.
The A330 is clearly a very useful aircraft for operations from the Middle East. Gulf Air’s neighbour Qatar Airways, currently has a fleet of 29 active A330s. Airlines such as Qatar and Emirates make a lot of business from connecting flights. In fact, the Arabian Peninsula is the perfect stop for the Kangaroo Route from London to Sydney.
What About America?
It is entirely possible that Gulf Air would be able to open up flights to the Americas in the future. With a range of 14,140km, the new B787-9s could fly to almost any part of the world from Bahrain. Only New Zealand and the West coast of South America would be out of the aircraft’s reach. Now it’s important to remember that while this is the case on paper, it won’t translate into real life as easily. Various regulations such as ETOPS dictate how far aircraft can fly from alternate airport, which starts to become a problem over large bodies of water.
The airline also potentially has the option of launching fifth freedom flights. This involves a stop at at an intermediate airport, often for refuelling. Tickets are available for each leg of the flight in addition to the flight as a whole. This has a number of advantages for an airline as it allows them to operate further from their home base. Additionally, they can tap into a new market of passengers. In addition to passengers flying from A-C, they can also tap into passengers flying from A-B and B-C.
What do you think of Gulf Air Growth? Do you think Gulf Air should keep their A330s? Let us know below!