It has now been three years since Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air received its first aircraft from the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family. The plane’s presence has helped the airline modernize its fleet, while also shifting its business model to that of a boutique airline.
The first delivery
Tomorrow will mark three years since Boeing announced that it had delivered Gulf Air’s first Boeing 787 aircraft. This was a crucial step in modernizing the airline’s long-haul fleet, which, at the time, consisted of older Airbus A330s. Its CEO, Krešimir Kučko, stated:
“This delivery is a historic moment for Gulf Air and Bahrain and yet another important step in our strategic direction towards furthering Gulf Air’s fleet modernization process and supporting our network and overall passenger experience enhancement strategies.”
According to Planespotters.net, Gulf Air has now disposed of all of its remaining A330s, and its 787 fleet has grown to seven aircraft. These modern and efficient twinjets have an average age of just 2.5 years old. With this in mind, Kučko added that:
“The 787-9 Dreamliner orders will ensure we maintain one of the youngest fleets in the region while building upon our award-winning reliability, on time performance and product and service standards.”
Gulf Air also launched its new livery on the 787. This represented a visual manifestation of its business model transition toward being a boutique airline. As such, the Dreamliner has quickly become the airline’s flagship, and it has deployed the type on key routes such as Bahrain-London Heathrow. It has also made several appearances at Formula One’s Bahrain Grand Prix, including one powered by sustainable fuel before the race last month.
Onboard Gulf Air’s 787s
According to SeatGuru, Gulf Air’s Dreamliners have a capacity of 282 seats. The majority of these are situated in its 256-seat economy class section, boasting 32 inches of seat pitch in a 3-3-3 configuration. These seats have a width of 17.5 inches.
However, its real pride and joy can be found at the front of the 787-9 in the form of its 26-seat ‘Falcon Gold’ cabin. Gulf Air markets this as “the luxury of first class at a business class fare.” Falcon Gold passengers are afforded an impressive 83 inches of seat pitch in their open suites, in which the seats measure a generous 36 inches wide.
This luxurious premium cabin is a key part of the carrier’s boutique model, and allows for more personable service onboard. Furthermore, it also feels that, due to its smaller size, it can more easily build close, personal relationships with its frequent fliers that use this cabin.
More Dreamliners inbound
In addition to the seven 787-9s already in Gulf Air’s fleet, it also has another three examples of the mid-size Dreamliner on order. This will see the carrier’s 787 fleet swell to 10 aircraft, which will help it to further establish itself among the competitive Middle East market.
However, these aircraft are unlikely to arrive at the airline particularly imminently. After all, as Simple Flying reported in January, Gulf Air has sought to defer its upcoming 787 deliveries in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It has also made a similar request regarding its incoming Airbus A320neos.
Nonetheless, the combination of the 787’s range and Bahrain’s convenient location in the Middle East should see Gulf Air help the world to become more connected in years to come. Its position will only be strengthened by its move into a brand new terminal at its Bahrain International Airport (BAH) hub. The carrier is surely looking forward to many more years of fruitful Boeing 787 operations.
Have you ever flown on one of Gulf Air’s Boeing 787s? Do you plan to do so in the future? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!