Gulf Air fi­nalises code­share deal with MEA of Bahrain

The National - News - - BUSINESS - DEENA KAMEL

Bahrain’s Gulf Air signed a code­share agree­ment with Le­banon’s flag car­rier Mid­dle East Air­lines in a deal that will of­fer MEA pas­sen­gers a direct daily ser­vice from Beirut to Bahrain on Gulf Air.

Mid­dle East Air­lines will place its “ME” code on Gulf Air flights on the Beirut-Bahrain-Beirut route, Gulf Air said yes­ter­day.

“We are glad to sign this code­share with Mid­dle East Air­lines and of­fer their pas­sen­gers direct daily ser­vice from Beirut to Bahrain on Gulf Air,” said Kres­imir Kucko, Gulf Air’s chief ex­ec­u­tive. “Beirut has al­ways been a key route in our Mid­dle East­ern net­work and we wel­come this part­ner­ship with the flag car­rier of Le­banon.”

Gulf Air con­nects Bahrain and Le­banon with daily flights to Beirut’s Rafic Hariri In­ter­na­tional Air­port and adds more fre­quen­cies dur­ing peak travel sea­sons. Le­banon has been in the grip of anti-govern­ment protests since Oc­to­ber 17. Protests against wide­spread cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment come amid the coun­try’s worst fi­nan­cial cri­sis in three decades.

“This code­share with Gulf Air will com­ple­ment the MEA net­work to the Gulf,” said Mo­hamad El Hout, chair­man of MEA.

The part­ner­ship with Gulf Air al­lows MEA to of­fer its pas­sen­gers a new des­ti­na­tion in Bahrain in ad­di­tion to other des­ti­na­tions in Asia via Gulf Air’s net­work, Mr El Hout said.

In June, MEA signed a firm or­der for four of Air­bus’s long­est-range jets at the Paris Air­show, mak­ing it the re­gion’s first air­line to com­mit to the A321 XLR sin­gle-aisle plane.

The air­line will use the A321 XLR, an up­grade to the Air­bus A321 Neo nar­row-body, on routes in Africa and Asia.

MEA, owned by the Le­banese cen­tral bank, said it is the launch air­line cus­tomer for the A321 XLR.

Gulf Air, Bahrain’s flag car­rier and the old­est air­line in the Gulf, is striv­ing to be­come the “bou­tique car­rier of the Mid­dle East”, its chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Vin­cent Coste said in April.

Gulf Air has code­shares in place with Thai Air­ways, Royal Air Maroc and oth­ers, and forg­ing agree­ments with new part­ners is “a very im­por­tant pil­lar of our strat­egy”, Mr Coste said.

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