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What Does The Future Hold For Gulf Air?  
User currently offlinegilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2985 posts, RR: 2
Posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 8540 times:

I think this was discussed 6 months to a year ago and was curious to know if it is any clearer on what the future exactly hold for Gulf Air and exactly where they are heading...

Last year they dramatically cut their long haul network, as were unable to compete on these routes and were haemorrhaging money... They reduced their A340 fleet just to 4 aircraft to take into account of these cuts...

Before these routes were cut Gulf Air placed huge orders with Airbus and Boeing for 20 A330-300's and 24 787-8s, over a year on these orders still seem to stand... Does anyone actually know the status or plans for these aircraft, as the A330's are due to be introduced in 2012.

Will old long haul routes be re-introduced, with this new equipment? Also there have been plans for several years for them to restart flights to the USA - is this likely to happen anytime soon?

Also when you read review websites of the airline, one of the major gripes by passengers on the long haul routes, is the old and deteriorating cabins with worn and faulty seats and IFE, on both the A330/A340's. Are there plans to upgrade the products in the current fleet, or will both types planned to be retired with the arrival of the A330-300's, when a new product is offered?

Are there any other plans or changes in the pipeline for Gulf Air, recently they seem to have been lacking direction and seem similar to how BMI are going, not know what direction they want to go!

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1804 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8252 times:

Gulf Air is up against some very stiff competition in the Gulf area. Emirates, Etihad, and Qatari all have very good on board products - much better than Gulf Air. The level of service for flights in this region is so high that Gulf Air must refresh their on board product soon if it wants to survive. There is not enough O&D or connecting traffic in this region for a mediocre full service carrier.

Another option for Gulf Air is to reinvent itself as an LCC. Under this business model, they may not be able to offer some of the longer haul flights that they had in the past. However, this business model would be a way for them to provide a cheaper alternative than the full service carriers in this region today. In fact, they could really capitalize and steal market share on routes to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.

As a side note, does anyone know if what the restrictions are in the UAE that prevents Emirates and Etihad from offering service to both DXB and AUH?


User currently offlineoly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6604 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8200 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 1):
As a side note, does anyone know if what the restrictions are in the UAE that prevents Emirates and Etihad from offering service to both DXB and AUH?

There may be an unwritten agreement between the various Emirates not to poach from each other. But Abu Dhabi's transport policy includes

Support the strategic business plans of Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

Recognize “open skies” as an aspirational goal to be sought on a case-by-case basis.

Encourage major foreign carriers to commit to a long-term presence in Abu Dhabi.

Continue to attract more services to Al Ain Airport to support regional development.


http://dot.abudhabi.ae/en/area_of_focus/aviation/policy/

Whether EK will be in an Open Skies agreement or is classed as a major foreign carrier is open to question.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1804 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8158 times:

Quoting oly720man (Reply 2):
Support the strategic business plans of Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

Recognize “open skies” as an aspirational goal to be sought on a case-by-case basis.

Thank you for the information. I suspected the issue was related to competing with each other on their home turf. The two cities are only about 80 miles (130 KM) apart so I suspect this also plays a role, but it always surprised me that they did not compete on some key routes.

[Edited 2010-09-12 16:04:13]

User currently offlineoly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6604 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 8141 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 3):
but it always surprised me that they did not compete on some key routes

You could argue that there is some competition for transit traffic, e.g. Europe to (Austral)Asia via the UAE.

A number of airports see EK, EY and QR, and EK have recently upped their game at MAN with the A380.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1804 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 8100 times:

Quoting oly720man (Reply 4):
You could argue that there is some competition for transit traffic, e.g. Europe to (Austral)Asia via the UAE.

A number of airports see EK, EY and QR, and EK have recently upped their game at MAN with the A380.

Agreed.

In addition, I've always thought a low cost carrier would do very well in this region. The reason is because so much of the labor force in this region is from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. It would seem to me that a lower cost alternative to these full service carriers would appeal to a lot of these workers who travel home multiple times per year.

[Edited 2010-09-12 16:34:05]

User currently offlineCX flyboy From Hong Kong, joined Dec 1999, 6533 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 7998 times:

The new boss of Gulf Air is the old boss of Royal Jordanian. They specifically chose him because he was running a successful smallish airline in a gulf country without the demand and budget of the major players. Bahrain and Gulf Air is in a similar situation. I remember reading a quote from the guy that specifically referred to his work at Royal Jordanian and that Gulf Air was also best suited to having a small longhaul network, and concentrate on a strong regional network with smaller planes. He said they had to face reality and that there was no point and no way they could try to be another Emirates, Qatar or Etihad and would be better suited doing their own thing.

User currently offlinegilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2985 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 5634 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 1):
Another option for Gulf Air is to reinvent itself as an LCC.

Im not really sure if that is much of an option anymore, as this market is also becoming saturated too in the Middle East, with the likes or Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and Fly Dubai.

LCC's are reliant upon non-transiting traffic and is there really enough from BAH on its own?


User currently offlineCricket From India, joined Aug 2005, 2964 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5273 times:

Quoting gilesdavies (Reply 7):
Im not really sure if that is much of an option anymore, as this market is also becoming saturated too in the Middle East, with the likes or Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and Fly Dubai.

I agree, particularly given Fly Dubai's and Air Arabia's aggressive expansion plans, though in India, the former has faced some issues with permissions. That said, local airlines from India such as Air India Express are also offering cheap flights to West Asia from India, so it isn't just 'local' low-costs that Gulf Air will need to compete with.



A300B2/B4/6R, A313, A319/320/321, A333, A343, A388, 737-2/3/4/7/8/9, 747-3/4, 772/2E/2L/3, E170/190, F70, CR2/7, 146-3,
User currently offlinespud757 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2007, 322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5253 times:

Quoting oly720man (Reply 4):
A number of airports
see EK, EY and QR, and EK have recently upped their game at MAN with the A380

As well as the EK A380 with F product at MAN, both EY and QR have started sending the 777 instead of A330, with EY adding F capacity, and there is speculation EK will also uprgrade the second daily MAN flight to an A380.

Quoting CX flyboy (Reply 6):
Bahrain and Gulf Air is in a similar situation. I remember reading a quote from the guy that specifically referred to his work at Royal Jordanian and that Gulf Air was also best suited to having a small longhaul network, and concentrate on a strong regional network with smaller planes.

Could we see GF entering into an joint venture tie-up or alliance? GF seems to realise they can't compete with the likes of EK, EY and QR then perhaps an alliance is what they need to be in. Will they go as far as a merger with RJ with both brands operating within One World or is there a possibility we may see both RJ and GF brands brought into the new IAG plc that BA-IB are creating? Are there restrictions by the Bahrain / Jordanian governments on foreign ownership . Interesting times!

slighty off topic but does anyone know how Oman Air are doing. Again another gulf carrier looking to use its position for transit traffic. I imagine they face some of the same issues as GF. Oman left GF to form focus on buidling Oman Air but with the 3 bigger carriers down the road in Qatar and UAE can they make it on their own or do they need to join an alliance? OW has RJ (and speculate possible tie up with GF), *A has EgyptAir in the region so that leaves ST with no carrier I can think of in the immdiate gulf/arab region. Perhaps ST could look to working with Oman Air. That's unless either QR or EY jumps into bed with one of the alliances given the sheer dominance of EK in the region. Think it's a sure bet to say we won't see EK in an alliance nor will we see any of these other guld carriers joining the proposed 'WE' alliance.


User currently offlinegilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2985 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5015 times:

Hi Guys

Thanks for all the above replies, and have been useful... I don't in anyway want to stop the above discussions continuing, but would also welcome any feed back about GF long haul future...

The airline apparently has 44 widebodied aircrafts on order (20x A330-300 and 24x 787-8), given the airlines current financial woes can they really afford these aircraft and where they hell are they supposed to be operated, when nearly all long haul operations have been dropped other than to BKK and several major European cities.

Would they not be best to just optimise the current A330-200's, give them a newly updated product and make these do for the next 5-10yrs?


User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1804 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4877 times:

Quoting Cricket (Reply 8):
Quoting gilesdavies (Reply 7):
Im not really sure if that is much of an option anymore, as this market is also becoming saturated too in the Middle East, with the likes or Air Arabia, Jazeera Airways and Fly Dubai.

I agree, particularly given Fly Dubai's and Air Arabia's aggressive expansion plans, though in India, the former has faced some issues with permissions. That said, local airlines from India such as Air India Express are also offering cheap flights to West Asia from India, so it isn't just 'local' low-costs that Gulf Air will need to compete with.

So what options do you think they have? Gulf Air would need to invest a lot of money for their onboard product and pray that it attracts the same type of passengers as EK, EY, QR. I think this is a costly and risky move. This is also a very expensive business model to operate.

I agree that there are other LCC options, but they certainly will have to do something drastic in order to survive.

Quoting gilesdavies (Reply 7):
LCC's are reliant upon non-transiting traffic and is there really enough from BAH on its own?

I disagree that LCC's are reliant upon non-transiting traffic. This may have been the case in the early growth stages of LCCs, but this is becomming less and less of a trend. There is a lot more traffic that can be captured by offering connecting services.

In the US for example, most LCCs offer connecting services. There is only one relatively large LCC in the US that I can think of that does not offer connecting services - Allegiant Airlines. However, as they mature in their growth stage, they will have no other options that start offering connecting services or there growth will be severly limited.


User currently offlinedirectorguy From Egypt, joined Jul 2008, 1639 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4590 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 11):
Quoting gilesdavies (Reply 7):
LCC's are reliant upon non-transiting traffic and is there really enough from BAH on its own?

I disagree that LCC's are reliant upon non-transiting traffic. This may have been the case in the early growth stages of LCCs, but this is becomming less and less of a trend. There is a lot more traffic that can be captured by offering connecting services.

Correct. I myself have connected several times on 2B (Bahrain Air) through BAH, and on J9 through KWI for that matter.


GF Longhaul:
I see the 'core' routes being retained. LHR especially plus high-density regional destinations that warrant widebodied services such as JED, RUH, CAI, DXB.
BKK/KUL/MNL tend to be seen as lower-yield routes that may not be worthwhile to operate. GF are one of the cheaper airlines operating to these cities when booking from LHR or BEY or DXB. Perhaps one of them will be cut.
FRA/CDG. These are of course important business markets but because GF undersells its tickets so much these may as well be loss-makers.
So, one might argue that they've already trimmed down a lot-they no longer fly to SYD, HKG, CGK, SIN, JNB, IAH, CMN or any of their exotic destinations of old. But if their financial position is anything to go by, they need to cut down even more. Is it possible that they'll make JED/RUH/CAI/DXB all A320 routes? It's not impossible. But then surely they can't keep widebodied a/c just for 2-3 routes? I don't believe that GF has the political will to withdraw from a key market like LHR.
I should also add that GF has (re)started services to some cities like Aleppo, Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Salalah and of course in Iraq/Iran. I'm not 100% convinced they want to downsize at all. I think that if they just drastically improved their product, they'd become competitive.
Alliances: I think GF's role belongs in ow. Both AA and CX fly to BAH, and it's a natural fit, given GF's proximity to both India and the oil-rich Gulf. I can see AA/GF coming in with ORD/DFW-BAH, and JL/GF coming in with NRT-BAH, and QF/GF coming in with MEL/SYD-SIN-BAH. Currently, AA, JL and QF all have a miniscule presence in the Gulf and the Indian subcontinent, if any.


User currently offlinereadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3051 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4382 times:

Quoting EricR (Reply 1):
The level of service for flights in this region is so high that Gulf Air must refresh their on board product soon if it wants to survive

Didn't they have an on board chef to take orders and prepare First Class meals, did that go out of the window?



you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
User currently offlineEricR From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 1804 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4116 times:

Quoting readytotaxi (Reply 13):
Quoting EricR (Reply 1):
The level of service for flights in this region is so high that Gulf Air must refresh their on board product soon if it wants to survive

Didn't they have an on board chef to take orders and prepare First Class meals, did that go out of the window?

Good question. I do not know this answer.

However, I do know their IFE and Business Class / First Class seating are a step below EK, EY, QR. In addition, the on board service for the 3 aforementioned carriers is consistently ranked higher by various independent sources.

Obviously, each source ranks the carriers differently, but when you take a look at several sources, EY, EK, and QR always are ranked higher than Gulf Air. Below are the top 10 2010 rankings from Skytrax.

The World's Top 10 airlines in 2010 Awards :

1. Asiana Airlines
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Qatar Airways
4. Cathay Pacific
5. Air New Zealand
6. Etihad Airways
7. Qantas Airways
8. Emirates
9. Thai Airways
10. Malaysia Airlines


User currently offlineoly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6604 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (3 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3744 times:

Quoting readytotaxi (Reply 13):
Didn't they have an on board chef to take orders and prepare First Class meals, did that go out of the window?

They still do, it would seem

When you fly Falcon Gold with us, you're in for a really mouth-watering experience. In addition to the warm and friendly service from our cabin crew, you'll receive individual attention from our inflight Sky Chef.

Having trained at some of the world's top hotels, our team of over 100 Sky Chefs introduce a fine dining experience. All the refinements of a five-star restaurant, but with unparalleled views at 35,000ft.


The link to the .aspx page on the GF website doesn't want to appear here, but if you google Gulf Air Sky Chef you'll find it.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
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