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.”
Country Manager – India Gulf Air