Gulf Air begins battle to rebuild airline in three years


New Gulf Air chief James Hogan has said the troubled regional carrier has begun a battle to rebuild the airline in three years.

Unveiling a series of reforms aimed at building a Ònew and bolder Gulf AirÓ, the acting president and chief executive told a Bahrain press conference that while the airline faced a tough road ahead, he was confident of victory.

Taking cue from the soccer World Cup, Hogan said Gulf Air also aspired to the same core values of Òpassion, pride and profitÓ.

He said the changes being instituted by his management were aimed at ensuring that Gulf Air recovered market confidence and share.

ÒGulf Air has the right ingredients, people and spiritÓ to fly back into profits and reclaim its status as the regionÕs premier carrier, said Hogan, who was previously the chief executive of Ansett Airline of Australia and BMI British Midland Airways.

ÒThe next few months are very important for Gulf Air. My key priorities will be to restore confidence in the market and recover lost business opportunities,Ó he said.

He said that while QatarÕs exit from the airline was a ÒdisappointmentÓ, the other three owning states - Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Oman - were Ò200 per centÓ behind Gulf Air.

Hogan also said discussions would continue over the next six months with Qatar over its decision.

He said the proposed reforms would result in some job cuts as the company focuses on cost to ensure a more competitive structure. He said more details would be announced over the coming months.

At the same time, Hogan said the airline would launch an executive graduate programme for young graduates from the region to train Òour future leadersÓ.

A number of senior international airline executives will join the carrier to provide specialist support as part of the drive to restore profitability.

Hogan said Gulf Air was targeting a turnaround in three years and many of the changes being instituted were a result of recommendations by US based consultancy, Simet Hellielson & Eicher (SH & E) which had been brought in to spearhead the rescue.

The airlineÕs restructure focuses on the key areas of sales and marketing, service and network, said Hogan.

He said the marketing and sales restructure aims to ensure that vice president of sales and marketing, Adel Ali, has the required support to revamp and upgrade the airlineÕs systems to ensure a speedier response to its customers.

A new Service division is being created to be headed by Luke Medley, a former chief executive of Avis in the UK and Australia who was also a former Ansett executive.

Another new division, the Network division, has been set up to ensure optimisation of schedules, use of aircraft, yield management and route profitability.

The division will be headed by Farid Alawi who will be backed by a team of experienced international executives.