After introducing many ground-breaking and award-winning new services for its premium travellers, including Sky Chefs in First Class, new menus, new departure and arrivals lounges across the network and new chauffeur and fast track check-in facilities, Gulf Air is ready to launch new skybeds this month, all so that its premium passengers can now be sure that they are truly experiencing the best in air travel.
The US$10 million investment in the new First and Business class skybeds will see the airline offering the most comfortable seating and sleeping environment in the skies. Gulf Air signed a contract with EADS Sogerma to provide First Class and Business Class seats for a full refit programme across its Airbus A330 fleet, with an option for the A340 refurbishment later on.
Gulf Air becomes the first airline in the world to use a revolutionary new concept in airline seating, with its order for Evolys Business Class seats. In the First Class cabin, EADS Sogerma’s Class 180 seats will be installed.
The Class 180 configuration offers a private ‘cabin’ space for each passenger, which can transform into a fully functional bed, offering a unique combination of comfort and privacy. Another unique feature to be incorporated in the re-fit will be a dedicated changing room, enabling passengers on night flights to comfortably change into their Gulf Air sleep suits or other attire to further enhance the quality of sleep. The Evolys meanwhile offers an exclusive lounge-bed sleeper position, scientifically proven to be the healthiest and most comfortable sleeping position for air travellers. Each model will be customised to Gulf Air’s exact requirements.
The new skybeds are to be installed as part of a complete cabin refurbishment, which started last month and includes the enhancement of in-flight entertainment systems. The first refurbished aircraft will be in operation this month, serving destinations including London, Frankfurt and Paris. The full refit programme will be complete by July 2005.
“This investment means Gulf Air will offer the most comfortable seating and sleeping environment in the skies today,” said James Hogan, president and chief executive of Gulf Air. “Our new seats are the most advanced in the market and will offer the highest levels of luxury, privacy and spaciousness in the industry.”
Gulf Air’s appetite for innovation was once again recognised when the world’s first Sky Nanny received a commendation at the 2004 Gulf Marketing Review Marketing Effectiveness Awards in the Best New Product launch category. The award was presented to Khalifa Al Rayes UAE general manager and Mohammed Al Tajer, manager marketing services at Gulf Air last month.
The unique Sky Nanny service provides qualified professional attention and care for young Gulf Air passengers from the moment of boarding the flight to the end of the journey. Every Sky Nanny is a fully qualified member of the in-flight service team, dedicated to delivering specialist care for children up to the age of 12 travelling with their parents or as unaccompanied minors. This includes keeping children entertained and fed, giving parents a breather.
Development of this enhanced in-flight childcare service was undertaken with the world famous Norland College, one of the foremost establishments in the world for childcare and education.
The Sky Nanny service is part of a larger programme for children introduced by Gulf Air in 2003 including upgrading the children’s menu to include new and healthy options, as well as ‘tooth friendly’ snacks and drinks. “We are delighted that one year on the Sky Nanny is still receiving this level of recognition,” says John Butler, vice-president, marketing and sales at Gulf Air. “We are particularly pleased to receive this award as it focuses on the effectiveness of the work that was done to launch Sky Nanny as well as the tangible benefits of the service at every stage of a journey within our network, whatever the age of the passenger. Sky Nanny is now firmly entrenched in a suite of in-flight services which cater to the individual needs of our customers.”
Gulf Air is the only truly pan Gulf carrier in the region and its network stretches from Europe to Asia and covers 50 cities in 33 countries. The fleet is one of the most modern in the Middle East and comprises 35 aircraft. The airline, which is in the last year of a three-year strategic recovery programme, headed by Hogan, is making rapid strides towards regaining profitability by 2005.
The dramatic turnaround in Gulf Air’s fortunes has won international recognition. In January 2004, The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) presented the airline with the prestigious Airline Turnaround of the Year Award for 2003. Gulf Air was also the recipient of the 2003 Platinum Award for the Best Airline in the Middle East and North Africa, recognising the airline’s commitment to service excellence. Among other awards, it won the Middle East and North African Platinum Best Airline Travel Award and Skytrax Most Improved Airline Award 2004.
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