BAHRAIN’S national carrier Gulf Air in December marked its successful 40 years of service to India, reinforcing its longstanding relationship with the country. On the occasion, the airline also unveiled a series of commercial initiatives tailored to the Indian market.
Commemorating the historic 40-year landmark, Gulf Air also announced a 40 per cent discount on fares from all four Indian destinations to its recently opened destinations in Europe and Africa.
Addressing the media in a press conference held in Mumbai, Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer, Gulf Air said, “Bahrain has a special place for India as the relationship between the two countries is more than 5000 years old marked by active sea trade and commerce across the Arabian Sea coast of India and beyond. The relationship became stronger since the 70s when hundreds and thousands of people from the subcontinent came to the Gulf for work and business. Today Bahrain is the second home to nearly 400,000 Indians that include workers, professionals and businessmen.”
On the occasion, Makhlouf announced a special 40 per cent promotional discount from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi and Chennai to its recently launched destinations Rome and Milan in Italy, Geneva in Switzerland, Copenhagen the capital of Denmark and Entebbe and Nairobi in Africa.
“As we commemorate this 40-year historical landmark, we reiterate our commitment to the Indian market and we will continue to connect you with the Gulf and beyond,” he said.
Makhlouf continued, “As far Gulf Air, we are proud of the fact Gulf Air was one of the first Gulf carriers into India landing in Mumbai in November 1971. Since then we have been serving the commercial capital of India, expanding into New Delhi, Kochi and Chennai. Today we offer as many as 12000 seats a week between these cities and Bahrain including double-daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi.”
“As the largest Middle East network carrier with excellent onward connectivity to Africa and Europe, we offer our Indian travellers seamless and faster connections in less than 3 hours giving them a choice of as many as 730 flights a week to the Gulf, Middle East, North Africa and Europe via our efficient hub Bahrain. This is particularly beneficial for Indian businessmen, who have family and business connections for decades in the African markets such as Kenya and Uganda to where we provide excellent connectivity,” he added.
During the conference, Makhlouf also unveiled the airline’s new commercial initiatives exclusive to the Indian market. Gulf Air is introducing Falcon Corporate Plus, a package designed exclusively for corporate travellers, offering a range of benefits that include special price discounts and free upgrades from economy to Falcon Gold class.
The airline is also coming up with an innovative programme specifically for small and medium enterprises (SME’s) in India that offers a range of incentives including a double bonanza by which both - the member organizations and their travelling employees - earn miles that can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades, etc.
Gulf Air’s popular Frequent Flyer programme has also undergone a major change; renamed ‘Falcon Flyer,’ the new programme offers members even more attractive privileges and value added benefits such as bonus miles upto 250 per cent, guaranteed seats, priority baggage handling, half miles redemption and family membership. Gulf Air already has 42000 Frequent Flyer members from India.
For families, Gulf Air will be introducing ‘Family First’ - a series of competitively priced packages for customers travelling with their spouses and kids, offering special privileges both on the ground and in the air. This will be an attractive package particularly for Indians, who very often travel with their families on vacation.
Most important of this suite of initiatives is the ‘Sky Hub”- world’s first full connectivity onboard Gulf Air’s long-haul flights offering high speed internet, 3G-4G mobile data speed connectivity, voice over the internet (VOIP) i.e. skype, streaming videos and the world’s first in-flight live TV via satellite, launched in October this year.
Gulf Air will soon be introducing its new A321 narrow body aircraft to India for the first time; the single aisle aircraft featuring full-flat bed on Falcon Gold class, will offer more legroom, extra galley space for movement and comes with the latest in-flight entertainment of its class.
As part of its network strategy to expand into niche markets, Gulf Air started services to 10 new destinations since January 2011 in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and has recently announced the launch of services to four more destinations; three in Saudi Arabia – Taif, Al Qassim and Yanbu and Juba in Jan 2012, the capital of South Sudan from 7 Feb 2012.