"Gulf Air is in discussions with both Star Alliance and One World, but since it is a key decision which can be made just once we will make a final decision in the next three to four months," said James Hogan, president and chief executive of Gulf Air.
Hogan said the airline is looking at new routes to fly and the new destinations would be Sydney, Johannesburg and Athens. "The route profitability should make a contribution and not just to put our flag in a destination."
As a strong carrier in the Middle East, he said, the airline is looking at all market segments - regional and long haul and for the first time the airline has introduced a three-year network plan, short-haul and long-haul to consolidate its position and improve frequencies in key Middle East cities.
Hogan confirmed that the first instalment of the 90 million dinar injection by the three owner states has been made and the funds will be used for the various initiatives being planned.
Gulf Air is also in discussion with Oman Air to form a strategic alliance and work is underway to set up Gulf Air's single centralised reservations system through a call centre in Muscat in the next six months.
Photo © Colin K. Work
Moreover, the owners unanimously approved the airline's three-year recovery plans of the board last month which includes an injection of more than $238 million by the three owners.
Asked if any more aircraft would be leased from the Abu Dhabi-based Oasis International Leasing Co (Al Waha), he said it depends on the market and what is on offer. Currently, Gulf Air has three aircraft leased from Al Waha.
Hogan also clarified that there will be no new equity partner to take the place of Qatar which pulled out of Gulf Air last year. The legalities of Qatar's exit are being worked out at the government level. "It is an issue of the governments involved," he said.