The 2015 edition of Arab Aviation and Media Summit was held in the capital city of Bahrain and was attended by 200 industry leaders in the region, reported the Arab News on December 8, 2015. It was held in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications and Bahrain Airport Company and one of the key areas of discussion was the importance of inviting foreign investment to the sector. This is especially relevant in light of the previous year’s declaration of a five year upgrade project of the Bahrain airport which was estimated to be worth 2 billion USD and would boost passenger capacity to 13.5 million per year. As a result the number of airlines flying from the airport are also expected to increase in the near future, but for the time being it remains the hub for Gulf Air, its flagship airline, which flies to over 43 destinations across the world.
Gulf Air: The Far Reaching Falcon
What started out in the 1940s as Gulf Aviation – a taxi service to Doha and Dhahran from Bahrain, came to be owned by the governments of then Emirates of Bahrain, the State of Qatar, the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman in 1973, after they took over the company that had holding in the aviation. It was then that it came to be renamed Gulf Air. In 1981 it became an IATA member and became the first international airline to land at Riyadh airport. Up until 2005, the airline’s hub used to be Abu Dhabi until it withdrew in September 2005 to start its own airline – Eitihad airways. At this point, the airline had dual hubs at both Bahrain and Muscat. On May 6, 2007 Bahrain became the sole owner of the airline as the joint-owner Oman withdrew from the consortium. Since then, Gulf Air has its hub at the Bahrain Airport located near Muhrraq, 7kms from the capital city, Manama.
There are several codeshare agreements that the airline has with reputed international airlines which allows it to extend its reaches. One of these is with American Airlines which codeshares on Gulf Air from London, Paris, Frankfurt to Bahrain and vice-versa, as well as to Kuwait and Doha via Bahrain and vice-versa. Gulf Air codeshares on American Airlines from London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt to US points: New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Raleigh-Durham and vice-versa.