Gulf Air is the national carrier for the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman. The airline operates a fleet of 34 aircraft to 47 destinations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Gulf Air's hubs are Bahrain International Airport (BAH) and Seeb International Airport (MCT). The company's logo features a golden falcon.
The airline is not part of an airline alliance but is part of the oneworld global explorer fare. It has extensive codeshare services with other airlines and special partnerships with Jet Airways and Oman Air's Frequent Flyer Programmes.
In the late 1940s, Freddie Bosworth (a British pilot) began an air taxi service to Doha and Dhahran from Bahrain. Bosworth later expanded this service and on the 24 March 1950, he registered Gulf Aviation as a private share-holding company. Seven Avro Ansons and 3 de Havilland DH.86B 4-engine biplanes formed the fleet, but more modern aircraft were needed. Bosworth chose the de Havilland Dove but while preparing to introduce the type into service he was killed on a demonstration flight at Croydon on 9 June 1951.
From 1951 to 1971, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) became a major shareholder in Gulf Aviation, holding a 22% stake. Gulf Aviation began services to London in April 1970 with a Vickers VC10 and, with the introduction of BOAC, saw a succession of updated aircraft entering the fleet. The turning point for Gulf Aviation came when the governments of the Kingdom of Bahrain, State of Qatar, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman purchased BOAC's shares in Gulf Aviation. Under the Foundation Treaty signed on 1 January 1974 creating a national carrier of the four States, the airline became Gulf Air.
Gulf Air A330-200With leased L-1011 Tri-Star and Boeing 737s joining the fleet, by 1976 Gulf Air had expanded its route network to include: Amman, Amsterdam, Athens, Baghdad, Bangkok, Beirut, Cairo, Colombo, Delhi, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Khartoum, Larnaca, Manila, Paris, Ras Al Khaimah and Sanaa. The fleet comprised 4 Vickers VC10s, 3 BAC One-Elevens, 2 Lockheed Tri-Star 200s and 5 Boeing 737-200s. Two years later the Tri-Star fleet had doubled, replacing the VC10s, and the Boeing 737s had increased to 9, resulting in the phasing out of the One-Elevens.
The 1980s saw an increase in air travel and growth for Gulf Air. In 1981 Gulf Air became an IATA member and in the following year became the first international airline to land at Riyadh. In 1988 the Boeing 767s joined the fleet and services to Frankfurt, Istanbul, Damascus, Dar Es-Salaam, Fujairah and Nairobi were launched, with services to Shiraz and Baghdad resumed.
Gulf Air celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1990. The light blue and peach Balenciaga-designed uniform was introduced. Singapore, Sydney and Trivandrum were launched and Gulf Air became the first Arab airline to fly to Australia. Gulf Air added Johannesburg and Melbourne to its network (1992), becoming the first Arab airline to fly directly to these cities. The following year it opened up a Flight Simulator Centre in Qatar. The same year saw the introduction of services to Casablanca, Entebbe, Jakarta, Kilimanjaro, Madras, Rome, Sanaa, Zanzibar and Zurich.
In May 1994, Gulf Air received its first A340-300. Gulf Air introduced a no-smoking policy on flights to Singapore and Australia in 1998 which later extended throughout its whole network. In 1999, Gulf Air also launched three new routes in North Pakistan: Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar. It also took delivery of two (out of six) A330-200 aircraft and a new Balmain uniform was introduced.
Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, posted significant improvements in its 2012 half yearly performance against the same period last year across its business operations indicating positive results.Announcing the highlights of the January-June 2012 business performance of the company, Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali said that the airline has recorded 6 percent increase in revenue and 13 percent increase in passenger numbers compared to the same period last year. Seat load factor has reached 77 percent for the same period registering a 5 percent growth.
The airline's Falcon Gold premium class alone has seen a healthy 35 percent growth while economy class has seen 12 percent growth over the same period last year indicating the passengers increasing preference to fly with Gulf Air due to several new features and facilities introduced recently. Gulf Air currently operates one of the youngest fleets in the region with an average fleet age of just 4.7 years. The airline's on-time punctuality has grown to 79 percent as against 78 percent in 2011 and 74 percent in 2010 while its technical dispatch reliability has reached 99.4 percent.
Correspondingly, customer complaints have reduced by 11 percent. The introduction of the Staff Appreciation Scheme last year has received much appreciation from customers with over 2,000 frequent flyers complimenting the airline's customer service.
Gulf Air has come a long way since it launched services in 1950 as Gulf Aviation Company. Now fully owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain through Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the airline started as a small scale commuter service, serving the oil fields of the Gulf and some regional customers. Today, Gulf Air is a major international airline serving over 40 destinations worldwide. However, whether it is 10 or 100 destinations, seven seater planes or the latest state of the art jets, our goal has remained constant - a commitment to the latest aviation technology and an adherence to traditional Arabian hospitality.