‘Realignment’ at Gulf Air

Plans to sell five Airbus A340s while adding more regional aircraft and A320s are part of a three year “realignment programme” announced by Gulf Air.  The aim is to make the currently unprofitable carrier a “commercially sustainable business” by 2012.
Bahrain’s national carrier is to suspend up to 15 loss-making routes, including Shanghai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, but plans to expand its operations into more than 20 new regional destinations.  “For the first time, we will focus specifically on Bahrain, serving the Kingdom with higher frequency, non-stop services to more destinations across three continents,” said CEO Samer Majali.  “We will also provide better services to some of the world’s leading financial markets, helping to support Bahrain’s significant financial services sector.”
He added that the new strategic plan will “necessitate a substantial increase” in the carrier’s narrow-body fleet beyond the 15 A320s ordered in May 2008 “whilst reducing our requirement for wide-body aircraft”.  This may mean the delay, or even cancellation, of its orders with Airbus (for 20 A330s) and Boeing (for 24 B787s).  “We are engaging our aircraft manufacturing partners in order to align our current order book with our new strategy,” Mr Majali stated.  “Meanwhile, we are exploring the possibility of selling five of our A340s and the disposal of certain other aircraft that have become surplus to requirements.”