GULF AIR shareholders will not need to inject any more capital into the airline, president and chief executive James Hogan announced.
The airline, which is in the second year of a three-year recovery programme, will be back on its feet soon, he told a press conference at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa. “If fuel prices go down, we shall break even by the end of the year,” he noted. Hogan talked about the future of the airline after announcing a $10 million (BD3.78 million) investment in new First and Business Class skybeds.
“It will be luxury at 30,000 feet. While expanding the operations, it is our vision to present a much more rich-styled Gulf Air to the aviation world,” he said. Under the agreement signed with French firm EADS Sogerma, the First Class and Business Class seats on Gulf Air’s six Airbus A330 fleet will undergo a full refit programme, starting February next year, said Hogan.
“Gulf Air will become the first airline in the world to use a revolutionary new concept in airline seating, with its order for Evolys Business Class seats,” he added. “In the First Class cabin, EADS Sogerma’s Class 180 seats will be installed. It will offer a private cabin space for each passenger, which can transform into a fully-functional bed.” The first refurbished aircraft will be in operation from March, serving destinations including London, Frankfurt and Paris, added Hogan.
“Long-term plans also include the refurbishment of our A340 fleet,” he revealed. “While enhancing our products and services to world-class standards, we are making every effort to help the airline stand on its own feet and to ensure that the shareholders do not inject any more money into the capital.”
EADS Sogerma vice-president sales for Middle East and Australasia Francois P Jouenne said Gulf Air was the first airline to select Evolys, the latest evolution in airline premium Business Class seating. “Eight seats in First Class and 24 in Business Class on Gulf Air’s six A330 will undergo extensive refurbishment during a three-month period, starting February,” he added. “A similar cabin improvement programme on its nine Airbus A340-200/300s is also under consideration by Gulf Air as the next step in its major fleet upgrade plan.”