Published July 19th, 2005 - 01:09 GMT

Under the Chairmanship of HE Khalid Eid Al Muraikhi, the Gulf Air Board met on Wednesday, July 13, to consider recommendations outlined in a new strategic document prepared by the executive management team.

Gulf Air President and Chief Executive James Hogan presented some initiatives forming part of the airline’s new strategic plan for board consideration and approval.

This follows the endorsement on May 4 of Gulf Air’s financial results and the successful achievement of all the Project Falcon objectives in 2004.

While optimistic about new strategy, Mr Hogan said fuel costs continue to place enormous pressure on the airline industry and Gulf Air, like all airlines that operate on a commercial platform, is definitely no exception.

“Around the world, airlines are taking radical measures to counter the negative impact of rising fuel on performance and profits,” he said.

“The most obvious of the steps is the universal and consistent imposition of fuel surcharges. While this is not necessarily popular, it is vital as a way to recoup some of the huge costs entailed in operating, if the industry is to survive.

“We are also starting to see the evidence of greater activity in consolidation across the globe, most recently in America, although the merger model had also been suggested for airlines in Australia.”

Addressing the issue of greater competition in the region, Mr Hogan also discussed the significant network changes that had been implemented.

“Our network and schedules are under constant review against criteria of commercial viability,” he added.

“As a commercially operated, non-subsidised airline, we have to do what makes commercial sense. So although our aim is always to give our customers the greatest possible choice and above all a seamless travel experience, we also have to take into account what our competitors in the region are doing, planning our schedules and routes to optimise the use of our resources.”

In the last few months, Gulf Air has made significant adjustments to its network, pulling out of Colombo and Casablanca and reducing the number of flights to other destinations including Frankfurt.

However, with the introduction of the summer schedule, additional flights have been laid on to key centres and holiday destinations such as Salalah, Alexandria and Istanbul.

“Despite the very real challenges we face, we are completely focused on implementing new measures that will achieve our targeted growth,” said Mr Hogan.

“Areas already under active review include strategic partnerships, re-equipping the fleet, network re-adjustment and the development of associated companies.”

The Board acknowledged the present challenges and re-iterated its support for the airline and stressed that management had its full support to continue to re-engineer the business, taking whatever steps necessary to maintain the momentum that had been established during the course of Project Falcon.
About Gulf Air
Gulf Air was founded in 1950.  Today, it is owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and is the only truly pan Gulf carrier in the region. The airline’s network stretches from Europe to Asia and covers 44 cities in 30 countries. The fleet is one of the most modern in the Middle East and comprises 34 aircraft.

The airline, in the last year of a three-year strategic recovery programme, headed by President and Chief Executive James Hogan, is making rapid strides towards regaining profitability in 2005 and aims to further evolve by taking its renowned cultural strengths, which have been gained over more than half a century, into a global environment.

The dramatic turnaround in Gulf Air’s fortunes has won international recognition.  In January 2004, The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) presented the airline with the prestigious Airline Turnaround of the Year Award for 2003. Gulf Air was also the recipient of the 2003 Platinum Award for the Best Airline in the Middle East and North Africa, recognising the airline’s commitment to service excellence.

Winner - Middle East and North African Platinum Best Airline Travel Award 2004
Winner - Skytrax Most Improved Airline Award 2004
Winner - Skytrax Best First Class Onboard Food Category 2004
Winner - Skytrax Best Business Class Check-in Category 2004
Official Airline and Sponsor of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2005


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