EXTRA flights have been laid on to cope with an increase in passengers for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix next month.
Several major airlines have reported that ticket sales are racing ahead and only a limited number of seats remain. Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air has put on six additional flights from Dubai on the day of the race on March 12.
“Strong customer demand is being seen from within the GCC region, in particular from Dubai and Kuwait, with London, Paris and Frankfurt being the strongest international contributors,” an airline spokesman said.
“At this point in time we have added six additional services on the Bahrain to Dubai route on Sunday, March 12.
“As per last year, passenger demand is at its highest for day return travel coming into Bahrain on the morning of the race and leaving that same evening. Seats are still available on the days leading up to the event for any further interested customers.”
Dutch airline KLM is also experiencing increased demand for the time of year. It operates a direct flight from Amsterdam daily with an Airbus 330 offering a capacity of 251 passengers.
“At the moment economy seats are quite full on March 9 and 10 and flights going out after the Grand Prix are almost fully booked,” said the company’s Bahrain commercial manager Denzil D’Silva. “The peak period is the day before the race and going back the day after the race.”
British Airways also runs one flight to Bahrain a day, direct from London, with a Boeing 777 offering a capacity of 220 passengers. Officials reported demand was strong from March 8 onwards, with premium (business class) seats already full on March 9 and only a handful of seats left in the airline's club class and economy sections.
UAE-based airline Emirates has two daily flights to Bahrain from Dubai, using an Airbus 330 with a capacity of 237 passengers. It also reported strong demand on March 9, which is the day before the first event. A spokeswoman said the morning flight on that day was already full and further demand was anticipated closer to the race. “The Gulf is normally a late booking market and a lot of it is last minute so we are expecting a lot more will happen closer to the race,” she said.
Qatar Airways has reported that passenger numbers have more than doubled on March 10 - the day of the Grand Prix practice session - to 160 from 77 the day before.
The airline runs a daily flight from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain and is predicting the jump in travellers will be replicated on other days surrounding the event, but closer to the race.
Cathay Pacific, which runs a daily flight to Bahrain from Hong Kong, reported some passengers were travelling from Japan and Australia via the Asian city to attend the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.