Gulf Air exploring direct flight routes to the US – ZAWYA

Daily update

BAHRAIN’S national carrier is exploring options to resume a direct flight route between the kingdom and the US, with its eyes set on New York as the ‘logical port-of-entry’.
The move by Gulf Air to boost tourism was announced by Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani during an American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) luncheon yesterday at the Ritz- Carlton Bahrain.
“New York would be the logical port-of-entry because we are looking at two things – traffic and connectivity,” Mr Alzayani, who is also Gulf Air’s chairman, said.
“We are looking for a US partner to give us access to the rest of the US, for both passengers going into and coming from North America.
“So, New York as a touch point is a must and, in my opinion, the market must be served with at least three to five destinations.
”Mr Alzayani went on to add that one destination is not sufficient to justify the investment in the route and the airline would need to add other stops, like Seattle, Chicago, Florida and Las Vegas to make the route profitable. The route will be added “hopefully by the end of the year,” and four secondary stops are likely to be introduced ‘very soon’ after New York is added to Gulf Air’s roster of direct flights.
The flight route is more feasible now due to Gulf Air expanding its capacity with new aircraft and personnel. A total of 39 new aircraft including Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, Airbus A320neos and Airbus A321neos are to be inducted into the Gulf Air fleet by next year.“In fact, we certainly got the hard part of charting the flight done in August and September with the Afghani refugee flights,” Mr Alzayani noted.
In August, the national carrier became the first commercial airline to fly Afghani refugees from Isa Air Base to Dulles International Airport in the US. During the Manama Dialogue held at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay in November, US Secretary of Defence General (Retired) Lloyd Austin III thanked the kingdom as well as other ‘friends’ for helping to evacuate a total of 124,000 refugees and providing a safe transit point for them.
Mr Alzayani noted that it took just 48 hours to chart the course to the US after they were called on to help with evacuation efforts, and he hoped that this laid the foundation for more flights, albeit under less extenuating circumstances. “However, before we fly to the US, we must be certified and accredited, so Bahrain International Airport has started that process, which would make the process of setting up the route much easier for us as an airline,” he added.As the GDN has previously reported, Gulf Air was expected to start the route in 2020, as part of its five-year strategic plan, but this was put on hold with the outbreak of Covid-19.
Prior to the pandemic, the national carrier had seen positive results in various areas of the business like growth of capacity, increase in destinations, frequencies and fleet. Previously, Mr Alzayani had been on the maiden 15-hour direct flight from the Boeing aircraft hub in Seattle to Bahrain, flying over the North Pole, coming down over Europe and taking pictures of the Northern Lights near
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