Airlines signal a slow return to normalcy


The summer and spring timetables released by commercial airlines operating in Bahrain signal a slow return to normalcy in the aviation industry.

Flights from Bahrain International Airport (BIA) number 392 a week, to 44 destinations, under the new timetable.

Industry officials in Bahrain are predicting healthy airline load factors with an anticipated surge in summer leisure holiday travel.

"Our passenger load factors have steadily increased since January 1," said British Airways commercial manager Jane Bishop.

"But our improvements are the result of reduced capacity and continued fare discounting."

Emirates country manager Edris Taher agreed.

"We have seen a healthy increase in load factors system-wide since the beginning of the year," he said.

Several airlines are considering re-launching services to Bahrain later this year, including Royal Brunei Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines and Alitalia, Italy's flagship carrier.

Uzbekistan Airlines will re-launch its service to Bahrain early next month. The airline will offer two weekly round-trip flights between Bahrain and Tashkent, utilising a 165-seat Turbo 154 aircraft. The round-trip economy fare will be BD210 ($558).

Uzbekistan Airlines will become the 21st commercial airline to offer on-line service to Bahrain. The airline returns to Bahrain after suspending its flights more than a year ago.

Kuwait Airways will add a second daily round-trip flight between Bahrain and Kuwait City to accommodate its growing business.

"Our load factors from Bahrain have been running exceptionally high, especially with transit passengers travelling onto the Sub-Continent, the Philippines and now to Western Europe and North America," said senior manager Jassim Mohana.

Syrianair, Egyptair, and Turkish Airlines will be adding flights to their summer schedule. Spokespersons for all three airlines say they hope to announce details by mid April.

The massive re-organisation of Gulf Air's on-line network could give an added boost to BIA traffic.

An airline source says the company is reviewing its hub operations and is considering re-directing all of its flights out of the Gulf, so that they all leave from Bahrain.

Its flights would come into BIA from other Gulf countries, to hook up to the global network.

Gulf Air will eventually position Bahrain as its primary regional hub, feeding direct flights between the country to its Gulf destinations, to coincide with its network to Europe, Africa, the Sub-Continent and Far East, he said.