Gulf Air committed to 'care in the air'
It is not enough to fly the best - a priority has to be to make customers want to fly with the best, says Bahrain-headquartered Gulf Air.With this in view, the airline has set new targets for itself, moving from simple provision of timetables to travel agents to develop a whole strategy design to "get closer to the customer". Technology has been brought into play to help achieve these aims. "We have reduced the incidence of denied boarding from overbooking by over 70 per cent and our load factors are starting to improve as a result," said a spokesman. "Our cabin crew customer awareness programme 'Care in the Air' is a further commitment to put our customer service at the forefront of the campaign to continually re-assess and improve our in-flight service. "Our cabin crew speak over 60 languages and comprise of over 50 nationalities - the cultural mix is a strong selling point as the multi-lingual crew can make anyone feel welcome and at home, no matter what their origins or background." The launch of an online booking and reservation service is the second phase in the enhancement of the Gulf Air Website. Visitors can check availability and special offers, retrieve information on destinations, plus review onboard entertainment and menus. "Our strength is that we have four hubs so we have four opportunities to connect passengers through the Middle East to any destination," said the spokesman. The airline is a regional leader in aircraft maintenance, often helping keep other airlines in the air. It is fully committed to top-quality maintenance, whatever the cost saving elsewhere, says operations vice-president Captain Peter Weiss. There is "absolutely no room for short cuts or inspection reductions" when it comes to "equipment fitness", he told local media recently. Capt Weiss said the average annual maintenance price tag per plane is around $3.5 million but an efficient fleet, equipped with the latest technologies that can maintain low fuel consumption, is vital. Gulf Air uses the Airbus A320 for inter-Gulf flights, the Boeing 767 on medium-range routes within the Middle East and to the Subcontinent and the Airbus A330 handles long-hauls to the UK, Far East and Australia. The airline also maintains the highest levels of security throughout its network according to the requirements as per international law, standards and recommendations. Gulf Air has code share alliances with American Airlines, British Midland, Royal Air Maroc, Cyprus Airways, Air Tanzania, Philippine Airlines and Oman Air. Its Falcon Frequent Flyer Programme was launched at the end of 1994 and at the time was the first fully fledged loyalty programme offered by a Middle East carrier. The programme currently has over 125,000 members in 115 countries who earn Falcon Miles whenever they fly on Gulf Air operated flights or on code share services with Gulf Air flight numbers, or using qualifying services offered by programme partners. They also have the opportunity to redeem miles for various tours offered by Sunshine Tours in Abu Dhabi. Credit point partners include American Express, SAS Radisson Hotels, Hilton Hotels, and Le Meridien Hotels. The airline began in 1950 as a private venture called Gulf Aviation. It became Gulf Air in 1974 and is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. The new headquarters was inaugurated in Bahrain in 1992. The Flight Simulator Centre was opened in Qatar in 1993. In 1994, the state-of the-art Airbus A340-300 joined the fleet. Gulf Air was the first Middle East airline to operate the A340 aircraft. The Airbus A330-200 became the flagship on Gulf European routes in 1999.