Gulf Air is the national airline of Bahrain, with its main base at the Bahrain International Airport. One of the oldest air carriers in the Middle East, it is owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman and Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The air service is not allied to mega Star Alliance of airlines, but is a part of the global explorer fare of Oneworld, one of the three largest global alliances of airlines. The company also shares special partnerships with Jet Airways and Oman Air’s frequent flier programs. The airline has three subsidiaries, under the name of Gulf Air Cargo, Gulf Air Hotels and Gulf Air Cars. The airline's logo features a golden falcon.
Formation And Growth
Gulf Air was initially founded as a private share holding company, named Gulf Aviation, by an English pilot Freddie Bosworth. The airline launched its services in 1950. The following year, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) bought 22% stake in the company, thus becoming a major shareholder. In 1972, BOAC’s shares were bought by the Kingdom of Bahrain, State of Qatar, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman. On January 1, 1974, the Foundation Treaty gave each of the governments a 25% share in the airline, which was re-branded as Gulf Air and became the national carrier of the 4 states.
Gulf Air joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 1981 and became the first international airline at Riyadh in the following year. In 1990, Gulf Air became the first Arab Airline to fly to Australia. In 1998, it initiated a no-smoking policy on its flights to Singapore and Australia and later the entire network followed the same policy. The airline established a subsidiary all-economy full-service airline by the name of Gulf Traveler in 2003. In April 2006, Abu Dhabi withdrew from Gulf Air to start its own airline operations.
In 2004, Gulf Air announced a sponsorship deal for the Bahrain Grand Prix (which will last until 2010). Two years later, the airline entered into an agreement with Thailand, called Open Skies, allowing unlimited flight operations between the two countries. In November 2007, Oman also withdrew from the airline and Bahrain claimed a 100% ownership stake in the airline. Gulf Air became the official sponsor of Queens Park Rangers, a fledgling English Football Club, in 2008. The airline also sponsors the prestigious Bahrain Grand Prix, a formula one championship race.
Gulf Air serves 41 destinations in 26 countries, covering all of Europe, Asia and Africa. It flies to France, Germany, United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece in Europe. In Asia, it serves the countries of India, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Bahrain, Cyprus, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Omar, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, and Yemen. It covers Egypt and Sudan in North Africa.
Fleet & Flyer Program
Gulf Air has a fleet of 38 in service aircraft, which include two Airbus A319-100, ten Airbus A320-200, two Airbus A321-200, ten Airbus A330-200, nine Airbus A340-300, and four Boeing 777-300ER. It has also placed 58 new orders, to augment its existing fleet. In 2003, the airline replaced its 'Falcon Frequent Flyer Programme', with the 'Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Programme'.