Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bahrain carrier Gulf Air plans to fly to three more cities in India

NEW DELHI: Banking on the hope that their saturated air traffic rights would soon be expanded, Bahrain carrier Gulf Air plans to fly to three more cities in India, taking the total destinations here to seven, as it experienced high traffic growth on the India-Gulf sector.

Gulf Air, which has been operating in India for over four decades and now flies to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi, is considering operating to Pune, Ahmedabad and Amritsar subject to official approvals, its Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf said here.

Till it gets to fly to the three more Indian cities, Gulf Air would continue to develop the four destinations it now flies to, including offering new products like a fully-flat bed in the business class of the new Airbus A-321s, he said.

Maintaining that the airline earns about eight per cent of its total revenue from the India sector, he said Gulf Air has almost exhausted its bilateral rights and was currently offering 16,600 seats a week between Bahrain and the four Indian cities.

Makhlouf was upbeat about the recent decision of Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh to hold fresh bilateral negotiations to enhance air traffic rights with countries like those in the Gulf and Southeast Asia, with whom the existing rights have almost got exhausted. These include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Macao, Afghanistan, Singapore and Thailand.

To questions on aviation regulations and high airport charges which are being opposed by Indian and some foreign carriers, he said, "We want to grow this market in harmony with the aviation authorities and the airports here."

"Our approach, unlike our competition, is to develop our existing routes and products and not act as a vacuum cleaner to take away all Indian traffic," the Gulf Air official said, adding that its market share vis-a-vis other Gulf airlines was about 60 per cent in the Delhi market and 55-58 in Mumbai. 


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