Gulf Air is looking at operating flights from Bahrain to Pune, Ahmedabad and Amritsar, its Chief Commercial Officer, Karim Makhlouf, said on Tuesday.

“Flying to new cities is something that we will look at in the mid-term. At the moment, Gulf Air will focus on the market here, where we already operate,” Makhlouf said at a media briefing. Airline officials, however, did not specify a time frame for starting the new services.

The airline currently operates to 49 weekly flights to Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi. India is an important market for the airline, contributing about $50 million annually, about 8 per cent of Gulf Air’s total revenues, officials said.

The Bahrain-headquartered carrier is also not looking to invest in an Indian airline at the moment, Makhlouf said. The Indian Government recently changed the rules allowing foreign airlines to acquire a stake of up to 49 per cent in a domestic airline.

The airline has launched a flat bed in its business class on flights operated by the narrow body A320 family aircraft that also fly to India. Gulf Air claimed to be the first airline that offeres a flat bed in business class on a narrow body aircraft operating to India.

The airline, which has ordered the latest civil aircraft, the Boeing 787, could look at operating some of the flights that it operates to India with this brand new aircraft, Makhlouf said. Almost 70 per cent of Indian passengers flying with Gulf Air use Bahrain to transit to other countries around the globe, officials said.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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