GULF Air has reported strong improvements in major key performance indicators during the first quarter of 2006, as the airline’s two-hub strategy, in Bahrain and Muscat, took effect.
In the first three months of the year, the seat factor increased to 73.0 per cent, reflecting a 6.3 per cent increase in premium passengers and a strong increase in Hajj traffic. Unit revenue for the same period rose by 6.6 per cent over 2005.
Gulf Air passenger traffic at Bahrain International Airport in the first quarter showed a 24 per cent increase year on year, while there was a 20 per cent increase at Seeb International Airport for the first three months of the year.
The results have been followed by a joint contribution of BD100 million ($264 million) to the airline’s balance sheet, from partner countries Bahrain and Oman.
The senior executive team presented progress on Smart Airline, Successful Business, the new strategic plan approved by the board in February this year. This plan includes provision for re-capitalisation of the airline, re-equipment of the fleet, product upgrades and refurbishment of present aircraft and investment across the business. “The positive effects of our transition to a two hub model are already in evidence, not only in passenger numbers and stronger performance at our two hub airports, but also in improved efficiencies,” said Gulf Air president and chief executive James Hogan. “Revenue growth simply cannot keep pace with oil price rises. Even after budgeted fuel surcharges, we are still facing a deficit of approximately BD80 million ($212 million) in 2006. The cost of fuel remains our greatest challenge,” he said.