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.