Gulf Air takes aim at cutting costs

Like virtually every airline around the world grappling with the worsening financial crisis, Bahrain-based Gulf Air is seeking to contain costs by grounding its fleet of Airbus A340 long-haul jetliners and starting to hedge on fuel purchases, CEO Bjorn Naf says.

In a bid to trim costs the carrier will replace its five, four-engine A340s with four, twin-engine Boeing 777-model planes as it continues with its turnaround programme.

“Gulf Air plans to return to profitability by 2010 as the massive turnaround programme the airline is undergoing starts to pay off ,” CEO Bjorn Naf said.

Since 2007, the loss-making carrier cut its network and jobs and started to renew its fleet, after announcing losses of more than US$1 million a day. However, Naf declined to disclose the current size of losses.

In December, Gulf Air announced that it intends to take delivery of four Airbus A330 wide-bodies and five A320s. Aside from seeking to expand its route network in Europe and India, the airline is also considering flights to the US, with a target of achieving profi tability by 2013 or earlier.

Gulf Air and Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) have renewed their long-standing ground handling contract along with a new service level agreement based on a high performance-driven co-operation. The renewal was formulated on new ground handling agreements between the sister companies.

Gulf eyes regional cargo
In Pakistan, Gulf Air has introduced self-handling for cargo sales as part of the airline’s growth and expansion strategy.