This week, Gulf Air announced the new routes it will add to its European network. From next summer season, the national airline and flag carrier of Bahrain will be serving Munich, Mykonos and Milan from its hub in Manama.
Gulf Air European destinations – at the moment
Gulf Air currently serves six destinations in the European Union. These are Athens, Frankfurt, Larnaca, London, Malaga and Paris. The other European destinations Gulf Air lists on its website are Baku, Istanbul, Moscow and Tbilisi.
Gulf Air’s European network is of high importance to the carrier. Through its flights to Frankfurt, Paris and London it serves a variety of American airports. It does so in partnership with American Airlines.
The destinations it serves through American Airlines are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa.
It also has codeshare agreements in place with Aegean Airlines through Athens to various European destinations like Brussels, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Vienna. In addition, it also serves Zurich, Copenhagen and Berlin through Istanbul and Turkish Airlines.
London is Gulf Air’s most prominent European route. It is operated by a Boeing 787 twice daily and is scheduled to connect onto Gulf Air’s departure waves to the Indian Subcontinent. Read a Simple Flying trip report for this route here.
Planned new European routes
The three new European destinations will be launched during the 2020 summer schedule. This follows a very recent codeshare agreement between Gulf Air and KLM.
Flights to Milan will operate to Malpensa, following an eight-year hiatus. Gulf Air will use its new Airbus A321neo aircraft on these flights. The reach of the narrowbody, fuel-efficient A321neo is precisely the factor that has enabled Gulf Air to launch this route again.
Services will depart Manama in Bahrain at 01.25, arriving in Milan at 06.55. The aircraft will then depart Milan at 11.35 to return to Bahrain at 18.10. Flights will operate daily, starting 1st July 2020.
Flights to Munich will also start on 1st July 2020, but will operate four times weekly. Gulf Air will use an Airbus A320 for these flights, just like it presently does on its daily service to Frankfurt.
The flights to Munich will depart at 01.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. They are scheduled to arrive in Munich at 06.35 before they depart for Bahrain again at 12.40 to return to Manama at 19.25.
Mykonos to operate in a triangle
Mykonos will be Gulf Air’s second destination in Greece, after Athens. That makes Greece the joint top European market for Gulf Air, together with Germany.
As quoted by Arabian Business, Gulf Air CEO Krešimir Kučko called Mykonos a “great boutique seasonal summer destination”. Flights will begin on 2 July and operate in a triangle with Athens, thrice-weekly with an Airbus A320.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the A320 will depart Bahrain at 01.25 to arrive in Mykonos at 05.40. The A320 will then proceed to Athens, leaving Mykonos at 06.40 and landing in the Greek capital at 07.25. The aircraft will then depart Athens at 08.25 to land in Bahrain at 12.35.
On Saturdays, the triangle will operate in Gulf Air’s morning departure wave. The A320 will leave Bahrain at 09.40 to arrive in Mykonos at 13.55 before it leaves for Athens at 14.55. It will land in Athens at 15.40 before departing again an hour later for its scheduled arrival in Bahrain at 20.50.
Further plans for Gulf Air
These three new routes will increase the number of Gulf Air’s destinations in Europe by 30%. Still, this is nowhere near the extensive number of destinations that Gulf Air used to have while it was still a dominant Middle Eastern carrier. These included Copenhagen, Rome, Zurich, Geneva, and Manchester, but also Houston, New York and Johannesburg.
With an ambition to resume direct services to the US and potentially increase growth by delaying the retirement of its Airbus fleet, do you think Gulf Air has the potential to close the gap between itself and Etihad?