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Gulf Air: Will It Survive Or Not?  
User currently offlineAirbuspilot From Belgium, joined Apr 2000, 416 posts, RR: 2
Posted (14 years 4 hours ago) and read 3089 times:

Troubled Middle Eastern airline Gulf Air is awaiting confirmation from two of its shareholders that they will provide extra cash to help rescue the carrier following a downturn in business since 11 September. The governments of both Qatar and Oman failed to respond by a 30 April deadline set by the Gulf Air board for an emergency cash injection of $258 million. The other two major shareholders, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, have already agreed support.

Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are the main hubs for Gulf Air - the region's oldest airline - and have provided the most financial support for the airline's growth. Over the past decade, Oman Air and Qatar Airways have developed as national carriers for the other two shareholders, and analysts in the region believe there is greater government support for these carriers than for Gulf Air.

Bahrain's prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa has been quoted by official news agency BNA as being firmly committed to the survival of Gulf Air. He told the Bahrain cabinet on 28 April that the carrier represented "a symbol of co-operation and solidarity among member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council", which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The carrier has already had a $160 million cash bail-out from the shareholders since 11 September, and has called in consultants Simat Helliesen & Eichner to look at cost-cutting and restructuring. Local sources say that almost 500 staff will be laid off as part of the proposed changes, although Gulf Air will not confirm this.

(FlightInternational, 7 May 2002)

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJrlander From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1108 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 4 hours ago) and read 3030 times:

I think that Gulf Air will survive. Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will continue to support it. It provides the far majority of service in and out of Bahrain, giving a significant boost to the economy. If Bahrain wants to continue to develop as a tourist destination in the Gulf, it will need the connections to Europe. Bahrain also gets a good deal of connecting traffic due to Gulf Air, and this traffic provides Bahrain with income from duty-free and concession sales.

Losing Gulf Air would devistate the Bahraini economy. The gov't will not let it happen.

User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (14 years 4 hours ago) and read 3027 times:

Hello Airbuspilot,

The situation at Gulf Air is uncertain. Abu Dhabi and Bahrain will both commit funds to Gulf Air but as the article says Oman and Qatar are not likely to do the same. In my opinion there are three likely scenarios, but I don't think that Gulf Air will completely disappear:

1. Oman and Qatar fail to pay up and Bahrain and Abu Dhabi will increase their shares in the airline. Bahrain has already said that they will tap into public funds if they don't have enough money to support Gulf Air. If this happens and the restructuring turns out to be successful then the airline will be recapitalized and be debt-free allowing Gulf Air to expand again.

2. Gulf Air is broken up into a much smaller restructured airline, such as Sabena which became SNBA. If this happens Bahrain will set up the Bahrain Air (Delmon Air) a project which was considered since the mid-90s, Cathay Pacific wanted to be a part of this project. Abu Dhabi will likely take up the remainder of Gulf Air and keep its current name.

3. If Gulf Air don't get enough funds they will probably have to part with a big portion of their fleet to pay of the debts, and then probably order more A320s to replace the B767s on regional routes and the A330 will be the sole long-haul aircraft in the fleet. Then GF will probably slim down their long-haul route structure to only include their most profitable routes. The increased A320 order probably explains why they are looking for 80 pilots enough for 16 aircraft.

I am seriously hoping for scenario 1 to happen, Gulf Air getting recapitalized and debt-free again with a huge cash injection allowing it to grow and expand again without having to worry about its creditors.

Airbuspilot, I wouldn’t think that GF will be hiring 80 more pilots if they don’t need them so I think/hope that if you work their you’ll job would be safe. Just to be on the safe side you may want to join Qatar Airways, I know they have got a bad wrap from the PPRuNe posters but they are not as bad as they seem. Click on this link to go to QR’s job offers page http://www.qatarairways.com/AboutUs/Recruitment.htm

BTW I am sure GF-330 and Eg777er will be able to help much more than I am so wait for there replies.


User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 3 hours ago) and read 3019 times:

I agree with Jrlander, Gulf Air is to important to be abandoned. The question is will be Bahrain be able to get the funds, and will Gulf Air stay in it's existing form or will it be broken up

BTW here is a clickable link to Qatar Airways' recruitment page. http://www.qatarairways.com/AboutUs/Recruitment.htm

User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 391 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (14 years 3 hours ago) and read 3006 times:

Airlines in this part of the world are not allowed to disappear, alot of airlines from Asia would have been long gone had govts. not intervened, unless there is a change in this area Gulf Air will survive, perhaps as a regional carrier.

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User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (14 years 3 hours ago) and read 3004 times:

Qatar's analysis is pretty much on the button.

However, the big problem is that of Abu Dhabi. It has the finances to support an airline such as GF on its own, but nowhere near the traffic.

The ideal solution is for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to club together and remove Qatar and Oman. GF can then concentrate on hubbing in Bahrain and provide a skeleton service from Abu Dhabi.

It's make or break time for Gulf Air at the moment. They need the money: they have very little in the way of assets (most of the aircraft, as with all airlines, are leased) so 'asset stripping' is not really an option.

From the fleet side of the equation, I believe the ideal fleet for GF would be

Some sort of RJ for Gulf routes.
A320 for Regionals (KSA, Iran, India).
A330-200 for low density Asia/Europe
A330-300 for trunk routes to LHR.

(The reason you sometimes see A340s of GF at LHR is because the A330 is too small!).

User currently offlineAirbuspilot From Belgium, joined Apr 2000, 416 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (13 years 12 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 2956 times:

Thank you guys for all the answers. The three scenarios of qatarairways seems very logical to me. I hope it will be the first one altough I see a lot of truth in the third one as well.

We will see, anyhow I am going to do interview and I suppose a lot will be revealed than.

I did apply at Qatar Airways as well several months ago but I have not received an answer yet. I will try again.

Anything new is off course more than wellcome so if you have more info.....please post it?


User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 12 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 2927 times:


Don't worry about Gulf Air. I am sure if they want 80 more A320 pilots they have a reason so you'll be fine.

Good luck at the job interview  Smile


User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (13 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2896 times:


"It's make or break time for Gulf Air at the moment. They need the money: they have very little in the way of assets (most of the aircraft, as with all airlines, are leased) so 'asset stripping' is not really an option."

I checked an updated list and I got this.

Gulf Air operational fleet

Owned - 2
Leased - 7

Owned - 4

Owned - 5

Owned - 3
Leased - 7

Total = 28 (14 owned / 14 leased)

This means they still have sell-able assets.


User currently offlineGF-A330 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2001, 1644 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (13 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2893 times:

Plus, two A330-200s are currently leased to TAM

A40-KD, KE I think.

User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (13 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2891 times:

Hello GF-A330

That's why I said "Gulf Air operational fleet". BTW do you know when they will be back.

User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2870 times:

You're right QatarAirways. I forgot about the A330s (!).

Apparently Hogan has been meeting with executives and will shortly announce 'his' plan. I say 'his' because it's really SH&E's that has been developed over the last 6 months.

Basically, I believe that all ops will be moved to BAH (with AUH serving some routes, like LHR) and try and make a go with it from that respect.

User currently offlineQatarAirways From Qatar, joined Sep 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2871 times:

Eg777er & GF-A330

Do you think that they will concentrate more on the regional market and cut long-haul flights to the bare minimum? I think they should drop SIN and HKG and concentrate more on the better performing BKK, MNL, CGK, LHR, FRA, CDG and KUL. If they drop SIN and HKG this should free up at least one A340 which could be sold so that they could reduce thier debt. Also once the 2 leased-out A330-200 return they could use them to replace 2 more A340-300s.
I think that the B767's should stay at least for the short term. They are excellent aircraft for routes to India as well as for higher density regional routes where the A320 is too small.

I also find that they waste aircraft on a lot of routes. For example GF have started a once weekly DOH-DMM route which is less than an hour flight on the A340-300!!! I think they should just use the A320 or withdraw fully. They also regularly operate the A340-300 out of DOH to AUH or BAH.

Hopefully SH&E's plan will help GF return to profitability or at least ensure they stay afloat.


User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 14
Reply 13, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2853 times:

Yes, the fleet utilisation is GF's main problem. Also, the timetable is a mess, with aircraft sitting idle for most of the day and then being used very heavily in peak periods.

They need to get rid of the A340s, pronto. In my opinion they could replace them very well with RR powered A330-300s - these are excellent aircraft for the routes that GF operate, and they have a good capacity. The A330-200 is simply too small for BAH-LHR at peak times - that's why the A340 is substituted a lot of the time but it struggles to make any money on sectors less than 12 hours long. Something for EK to think about: if the North American market isn't as good for them as they hope, they will have a hard time operating the A345 anywhere else and make any money.

I have heard strong rumours about the SH&E plan: basically it involves serious hubbing out of Bahrain - with four 'waves' of flights coming in and departing. Movements at BAH will therefore double and they have redesigned the transit area to cope with it. AUH will be left with a LHR flight and maybe a couple of subcontinent ones. However most traffic will be routed through Bahrain. However I must stress that these are rumours only: we're likely to learn much more in the days ahead.

GF need to reinvent themselves as a premium airline. They once offered excellent inflight service that I and many others thought was far better than the likes of BA and EK. However, that's not the case now. I'm appalled that GF are reconfiguring A340s without First Class (they've already cut Business) - hopefully this decision will be one of the first to be reversed. Also, I flew on one of their A320s for the first time in ages a couple of months ago and it was in a terrible condition. These aircraft, together with the 767 fleet (I imagine) haven't been refurbished since they were purchased. That's almost 10 years ago now! The A340s are also looking pretty tired.

Coupled with this improvement in onboard services they need to redo their schedules. They need to offer at the very least a double-daily from Bahrain to London, Frankfurt and Paris every day of the week, at concrete times. Only then will they build up a market which exists - I've talked to BA and seen the amount of people they transfer, and the same with KLM. They need to be much more proactive. Take the Manchester flights example: there is a definite market (has been proven by Emirates) but Gulf Air made a mess of it by doing Manchester-Abu Dhabi, which flopped. It only ran 3 times a week, there were hardly any connections and the timekeeping was fairly horrendous. But becuase of politics, AUH got the flight. If it had gone to BAH instead, it might still be with us. Gulf Air were given the oppourtunity to fly to Birmingham years before Emirates, but they never took it up. Why? Becuase there was never anyone in charge of the airline in strategic terms. Since that jumped-up fighter pilot took over in '95 the airline has been going steadily downhill. And now, EK are reporting 95% load factors on their Birmingham routes.

I think the most ironic thing about GF is that it could be one of the world's famous and respected airlines. Hell, it's 52 years old!! It has a great history, nostalgia, name - why can't it make use of it. When Emirates and Qatar Airways (no offence!) celebrate their 50th Anniversaries, what are they going to have? A rusty ex-PIA 737 and a rusty 727. Compare that to Gulf Air and the wonderful Avro Anson - the airline is part of world aviation history.

There we go, I've vented my spleen. It's so sad, it could be such a great airline.  Sad

User currently offlineIndianicWorld From Australia, joined Jun 2001, 3699 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2812 times:

A BAH hub sounds like the best idea imo. AUH could be used as a mini-hub, or fucus city. A high frequency shuttle service between there cities, along with a DOH and Oman ( forgot the city sorry ) getting regular connections to could very well work. The problem is that GF is being squeezed out of the market by EK and QR. It really needs to show itself as a proud airline built on tradition and loyalty.

The A340s should stay, maybe not all of them but the capacity is needed. A330 and A320s should be the backbone to services within Africa / Middle East / subcontinent and selected European services with A330.

Hopefully one day it comes back to Australia with a stonger product than before, and with services that are competitive to EK. But it will need to beat QR back here to Australia before they build themselves up here.

It will be interesting times in Aviation in general, but GF has a big job ahead if it wishes to thrive again. Surviving should be the first preference before any huge grand plans are hatched.


User currently offlineAirbuspilot From Belgium, joined Apr 2000, 416 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2790 times:

Considering the information I have been receiving the last week there is some silver lining above the clouded skies for GF.

With Bahrain and Abu Dhabi willing to invest the money required, SH&E doing the auditting with good results so far, Hogan building on a new immage and strategy....

I tend to say that GF will survive.Even better, I think they will even grow and become again the high quality carrier it used to be.

EK is way in front of GF and it will always be bigger! But I think GF should aim on becomming the carrier with the highest quality of service. EK will be there biggest competitor, QR should be no problem for them.

Let's hope so! With 50 years of tradition to claim they deserve to live!

User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 14
Reply 16, posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2778 times:

Airbuspilot, looks like we now know why the 80 new A320 pilots are needed!

(From the Gulf Daily News, 15th May 2002).

Gulf Air in bid to buy six aircraft

GULF Air has reportedly reached a deal in principle to acquire six new aircraft - provided it gets a cash injection from its owning states.

The airline would get five new Airbus A320s and one Airbus A330 by early next year, under the deal with a European aviation broker.

It is understood Gulf Air would take the planes on lease, with an option to buy.

"But the additional aircraft acquisition deal is pending the cash injection approval by its four ownership states (Abu Dhabi, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain)," said a source.

Gulf Air has reportedly asked its own states to increase its capital by $272.5 million (BD103m), but Qatar and Oman have already refused, according to other sources.

Gulf Air received a BD60m cash boost last summer.

The six new aircraft will be needed to meet growth proposals currently being considered by consultants Simet Hellielson and Eicher (SH&E), called in to help the troubled airline.

Meanwhile, the airline's new president and chief executive James Hogan assumed his new duties on Sunday, succeeding Ibrahim Al Hamer, who held the position since January 2001.

Mr Hogan is an Australian and former chief executive officer of Australia's Ansett Airlines and the UK's British Midlands Airways.

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