Published February 16th, 2006 - 03:04 GMT

Gulf Air announces that funding in the region of US$900 million for the first phase of its fleet upgrade, replacement and growth programme is expected to be in place by May this year.

The decision to accelerate the replacement of the airline’s nine Boeing 767s was one of several major resolutions in support of the Smart Airline, Successful Business strategy, that were passed at the first Board meeting under Gulf Air’s new ownership structure held in the Sultanate of Oman last week.

President and Chief Executive James Hogan said that discussions with financial institutions were nearing their conclusion.

“The renewed confidence the financial markets have in Gulf Air’s commercial performance over the past few years has resulted in us moving forward at a good pace,” he said. “We are confident of making a formal announcement on funding in the next three months along with a Memorandum of Understanding with one of the airframe manufacturers.”

Hogan, is in the Far East on an official visit to launch the airline’s new year round non-stop direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Muscat, Oman and then onto Bahrain, three times a week with an increase to five times per week during the high demand Summer period.
 “The launch of these flights further demonstrates our commitment to this market, which we believe has great potential for Gulf Air. We are delighted to be in Malaysia and we look forward to strengthening our position by offering world class service in which the cultural richness and traditions of Arabia are brought to life,” said Hogan.

“The new service will also provide options for Middle Eastern travellers to experience Malaysia’s exotic destinations.  Moving forward, we shall be focusing on corporate and business travel for this market.

Gulf Air’s highly-trained crew comprises more than 80 nationalities, speaking some 70 different languages, reflecting the truly multinational nature of the airline.

Gulf Air has been flying to Malaysia since 1995. This new non-stop service replaces the current service that operates via Bangkok.

Hogan said Gulf Air hoped to develop Oman as a key gateway to the Gulf, Middle East and Europe. Flight connections to its new destinations of Dublin and Johannesburg, which were launched in December last year, will further open up new leisure markets.

Founded in 1950, Gulf Air, owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman, is the only truly Pan Gulf carrier in the region.

The regional, geographic and cultural values that the airline has embraced over more than half a century are still central to defining our brand and service ethos.

Today the airline’s network stretches from Europe to Asia and covers 44 cities in 30 countries. The fleet comprises 34 aircraft.

Under President and Chief Executive James Hogan, the platform for sustained commercial operation has been established over the past three years as part of a multi-phased turnaround programme.

It has also provided a framework for a succession of innovative products and services including the unique Sky Chefs and Sky Nannies that form part of Gulf Air’s ’smart airline, successful business’ vision.

The dramatic turnaround in fortunes has won international recognition.  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, which saluted the airline’s commitment to service excellence. Other achievements and awards include:

- Middle East Leading First Class Airline, World Travel Awards 2005
- World’s Leading Airport Lounge, World Travel Awards 2005
- Middle East & North African Platinum Best Airline Travel Award 2004
- Skytrax Most Improved Airline Award 2004
- Skytrax Best First Class Onboard Food Category 2004
- Skytrax Best Business Class Check-in Category 2004

Official Airline and Sponsor of the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2006



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