Gulf Air & the In­dia mar­ket

Gulf Air is com­mit­ted to tap­ping the coun­try’s po­ten­tial by strength­en­ing its pres­ence here.

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per Hus­sain A Rah­man, Coun­try Man­ager – In­dia, Gulf Air, In­dia is one of the key mar­kets for the air­line due to a large num­ber of labour and VFR traf­fic. Start­ing its In­dia op­er­a­tions back in 1971, Gulf Air cur­rently of­fers twice daily flights from Bahrain to New Delhi and Mum­bai, ten flights a week to Chen­nai and a daily flight to Kochi. The air­line serves over 400,000 cus­tomers and of­fers nearly 7,500 seats a week be­tween th­ese cities and Bahrain and it in­tends to strengthen its po­si­tion in the In­dia.

Rah­man said, “Con­ser­va­tive eco­nomic re­ports fore­cast In­dia’s growth at ap­prox­i­mately six to seven per cent an­nu­ally in the next few years. Gulf Air is com­mit­ted to tap­ping this po­ten­tial by strength­en­ing its pres­ence in the coun­try. Cur­rently, the air­line is ex­plor­ing the com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of a num­ber of des­ti­na­tions in In­dia to re­in­force its ex­ist­ing net­work and strengthen fu­ture links with this im­por­tant mar­ket.” He fur­ther in­formed that In­dia is one of the key mar­kets for Gulf Air and the air­line pro­vides con­ve­nient con­nec­tiv­ity for pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling from In­dia to the Mid­dle East, Europe and Africa and to hun­dreds of cities in the USA via its code­share part­ner, Amer­i­can Air­lines. When asked if the air­line is plan­ning to ex­pand its op­er­a­tions in In­dia, Rah­man said, “Gulf Air is also ex­plor­ing the com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of op­er­at­ing to a

Gulf Air is ex­plor­ing the com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of many des­ti­na­tions in In­dia to re­in­force its ex­ist­ing net­work

num­ber of des­ti­na­tions in the coun­try. Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of th­ese stud­ies, a de­ci­sion will be taken on the routes and the In­dian Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion will be ap­proached.”

Acord­ing to Rah­man, the air­line views travel agents as an in­te­gral part of its sales and mar­ket­ing oper- ations. Gulf Air has re­cently or­gan­ised a joint trade pro­mo­tion with Aba­cus Dis­tri­bu­tion Sys­tems In­dia specif­i­cally to in­cen­tivise travel agents as part of cel­e­brat­ing the air­line’s 42 years of ser­vice to In­dia.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion ( IATA), the In­dian avi­a­tion sec­tor at­tracts about 150 mil­lion trav­ellers through its air­ports with an ex­pected in­crease in 2020 to 450 mil­lion, rank­ing In­dia as the third-largest avi­a­tion mar­ket in the world. As such, Gulf Air is fo­cussing on strength­en­ing its ex­ist­ing routes within In­dia and in­tends to con­tinue to pro­vide the In­dian mar­ket with vi­able ad­di­tional fre­quen­cies, des­ti­na­tions and ser­vices. “How­ever, global air­lines, in­clud­ing Gulf Air, are fac­ing a num­ber of chal­lenges while op­er­at­ing in In­dian skies; among them are the ex­pen­sive rise of fuel prices and air­ports charges. Ad­di­tion­ally, the con­gested in­ter­na­tional air­ports in In­dia, such as Mum­bai and Delhi, cause some dif­fi­culty in al­low­ing in­creased fre­quen­cies and sched­ule changes,” in­formed Rah­man.

With the Jet-Eti­had deal, the later is go­ing to pose a strong com­pe­ti­tion to other Mid­dle East­ern car­ri­ers op­er­at­ing in In­dian skies. It will take ad­van­tage of the strong do­mes­tic net­work of Jet Air­ways and pro­vide pas­sen­gers with con­ve­nient and has­sle-free tran­sits and world-wide con­nec­tiv­ity. When asked if Gulf Air is look­ing at any part­ner or buy­ing stake in In­dian car­ri­ers, Rah­man com­ments, “The strate­gic plan of a num­ber of Mid­dle East­ern car­ri­ers is to grow through im­ple­ment­ing an eq­uity part­ner­ship strat­egy. Gulf Air’s strat­egy is not one of ac­qui­si­tions.”

Hus­sain A Rah­man

Coun­try Man­ager – In­dia Gulf Air

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