The flag carrier of Bahrain, Gulf Air, has announced that it will be resuming direct service to India. The airline had suspended much of its service in mid-March when the crisis was rapidly becoming widespread, and governments everywhere were imposing travel restrictions. One major issue with this announcement is that flights are not readily available for purchase.
The airline was reportedly resuming service to Trivandrum as of yesterday with additional services later in the week to Cochin and Calicut. Gulf Air also has plans to announce even more service to the country in the near future.
Is service actually resuming?
From its one and only hub on the outskirts of the capital city of Manama, the Middle Eastern carrier has said that it would begin by restoring service to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) on September 14th. However, data from FlightRadar24.com indicates that the flight for the 14th was canceled. The same goes for tomorrow’s September 16th service.
While flights from September 17th and onwards show as ‘scheduled,’ direct flights operated by Gulf Air from Bahrain International Airport to Thiruvananthapuram do not show up in flight search engines – including the airline’s own.
In fact, using Google’s flight search engine, the first direct flight to the Indian city takes place on October 15th – quite a different story from the September 14th date provided in the airline’s statement.
Flights to India unavailable for booking
Simple Flying made attempts to confirm that Gulf Air flights to India were moving ahead as announced. The airline’s Facebook messenger contact directed us to call a customer service number. The airline representative we spoke to indicated that, concerning the Indian cities mentioned, no flights were available until October 15th.
Yesterday, we contacted the customer service and sales representative for Trivandrum, who responded with the following information:
“The schedule that is announced is as per the Air bubble agreement not the normal scheduled flight. From Trivandrum we have a flight scheduled for today and the flight is full. You may wait for the next schedule to be announced.”
Therefore, it appears that while the airline is making announcements regarding direct service to India resuming, flights aren’t actually available for purchase by regular means. This is highly confusing for anyone interested in booking travel with the airline, as this is not specified in the airline’s public messaging. Their press release is as follows:
“Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, announces that it will resume its direct flights to and from the Republic of India staring with Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) on 14 September 2020 along with Cochin and Calicut this week with plans to announce a further expansion into more destination within India soon.”
As you can see by the official press statement and Facebook posts, the airline is announcing flights that aren’t available. There is no mention of this and gives readers a false understanding of the situation as experienced by Simple Flying as well as members of the public. One posted a comment to the airline’s Facebook post saying,
“Please [get] your customer service department well-informed. Called just now and they said they don’t know anything and that flight from India will resume by Mid-October.”
What do you think is actually going on here? Let us know in the comments.
Simple Flying contacted the representative in Trivandrum to ask how travelers might be able to get a seat on these flights. No response has been received at the time of publication.