Bahrain’s national airline Gulf Air, has announced that following a 360 degree strategic review, it’s refocusing it’s business to bring the Gulf island kingdom more business and tourism.
The airline is due to take delivery of 39 new aircraft and with the start of its 787 deliveries later this year, will introduce a new livery and branding.
During 2018, 5 787-9’s and a pair of A320neo’s will start the fleet renewal.
Bahrain is in a difficult position, neighbouring Qatar with whom it shares airspace, but the country is deeply dependent on Saudi Arabia’s military and political support. Bahrain is part of the blockade in Qatar.
The countries Monarchy is one branch of Islam supported by the Saudis and the vast majority of its people are followers of the Iranian supported branch, leaving the island in frequent political crisis.
Many analysts feel the kingdom can’t survive long term as is and are dubious it can fulfil its airline turn around without political reform. Violence and discord simmer beneath the surface and the blockade of Qatar has had marked economic impact on the small island, with the loss of trade with its neighbour.
The blockade was made more complicated because Bahrain controls (under agreement with the Qatari’s before the blockade) the North and Western approaches to Qatari air space, and Qatar the Southern and Eastern to its own and Bahrain’s.
After trying to work without cooperating, restoration of air traffic control was quietly allowed by the other blockading states.
Bahrain is crucial to the ATC environment in the Gulf – with Qatar, Etihad, Emirates and Saudi Arabian all within short distances of each other’s main bases.