Will Bahrain Airport's niche market strategy pay off?

Published May 12th, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
The airport is expanding capacity by 10 million passengers a year to 14 million by 2020 at cost of $1.1 billion.  (File photo)
The airport is expanding capacity by 10 million passengers a year to 14 million by 2020 at cost of $1.1 billion. (File photo)

Bahrain International Airport sees its future in origin and destination traffic and not along the east and west transcontinental routes that Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi have built their hubs on.

Once the region’s main airport, Bahrain has failed to keep up with the rapid growth of its Gulf neighbours, who are home to some of the world’s fastest-growing airlines. In 2015, Bahrain handled 8.6 million passengers compared to 78 million at Dubai International, the region’s biggest, 30 million at Qatar’s Hamed International and 23 million at Abu Dhabi International.

“The strategy with Bahrain International Airport and the national carrier is to go after O&D (origin and destination). O&D is what contributes to the country’s tourism,” airport chief commercial officer, Mohammad Khalil, told Gulf News at the Airport Show in Dubai on Wednesday.

Bahrain’s home carrier, state-owned Gulf Air, switched its attention to regional routes in 2013 when it started axing some long-haul flights as part of a restructuring process to cut losses.

Since 2013, origin and destination passenger traffic at Bahrain International has become heavier to account for 65 per cent of all traffic in 2015, according to Khalil. By comparison, origin and destination accounts for 50 per cent of Dubai’s passenger traffic, 36 per cent in Abu Dhabi and 20 per cent in Doha.


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