In Brief


Gulf Traveller flying high
MANAMA: Gulf Traveller, the full-service all-economy subsidiary of Gulf Air, is celebrating a tremendously successful inaugural year.

“With average loads in excess of 70 per cent, Gulf Traveller has achieved much better results than our confident projection,” said Gulf Air president and chief executive James Hogan. As a leading innovator in the region’s aviation industry, Gulf Air recognised, ahead of its regional competitors, the shifting trend in the global aviation industry, which is forcing airlines to respond to changing market demographics and its multiple customer segments.

Air Arabia opens new Bahrain office
MANAMA: Air Arabia has opened its Bahrain travel shop at Yateem Centre.
The airline has been operating in Bahrain through its GSA, Dadabhai Travel. “We believe that the opening of our own travel shop will enable us to do this better,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, chairman of the airline. “The airline has recorded a passenger load factor of 80 per cent on this sector,” added Mohammed J. Mahmood, Air Arabia’s Bahrain and Eastern Province manager.

Bahrain, Saudi investors plan new airline
MANAMA: A group of Bahraini and Saudi investors plan to establish an $80-million private airline in Bahrain next year, a report said. The airline, which will only fly short-haul, has been approved in principle by the Bahraini authorities on the condition that it does not adversely affect Gulf Air, which is jointly owned by the governments of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Oman, media reports quoting shareholder sources said. For this reason, the new airline’s routes will only be regional. The report said the new airline will not be launched before April next year.

Gulf Air launches new Dubai-London flights
DUBAI: Gulf Air launched its daily service from Dubai to London Heathrow last month. It means the airline now operates the greatest frequency of flights to the region out of Heathrow, a statement said. “The addition of the daily flight from Dubai means that travellers between the UAE and UK now have even more choices with Gulf Air,” said airline president and chief executive James Hogan. The daily Dubai flights are in addition to the twice-daily flights from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.

PIA flies to Fujairah
FUJAIRAH: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) launched a flight to Karachi from Fujairah International Airport last month. A one-way ticket on the new Fujairah-Karachi service costs Dh200 ($54.5), along with the Dh85 tax, and the return ticket will cost Dh250 plus Dh170 tax. “We have offered our customers in this region a family fare discount of 10 per cent and a similar discount for corporates,” said Zahir Hayat, general manager of PIA in the Gulf, Middle East and Africa.

A gets Bahrain-Doha rights
MANAMA: Indian Airlines (IA) has been granted traffic rights to carry passengers from Bahrain to Doha and back. The airline has been operating daily flights from Bahrain to Calicut, Kerala, via Doha, since 1996, which was later extended to Cochin. However, the airline had no traffic right to carry Doha-bound passengers from Bahrain or back. The Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs granted the “fifth freedom” right on the Bahrain-Doha sector last year, but there was a delay in getting permission from the Doha authorities. The Bahrain-Doha/Doha-Bahrain flight leaves daily just after midnight (12.05) and arrives in Doha at 12.50am.

Air France launches new Doha flights
DOHA: Air France has launched two non-stop weekly flights from Doha to Paris. The Doha-Paris flight, AF577, operates on Thursdays and Sundays, leaving at 11.05am to arrive in the French capital at 5.20pm. The Paris-Doha service, AF576, is on Wednesdays and Saturdays, leaving at 1.40 pm to arrive in Doha at 9.15 pm. The flights will be operated using 82-seat Airbus A319s offering Business and Economy cabins. All Frequence Plus members travelling on the Doha-Paris-Doha route up to September 15 will be offered the chance to double their miles, whatever their class of travel, said an airline spokesperson.

QA boosts Pakistan service
DOHA: A senior delegation of Qatar Airways representatives officially opened the airline’s new office in Islamabad. The delegation, led by CEO Akbar Al Baker, also included general manager, commercial, Mohamed Saleh Fakhri and senior manager commercial operations, East, Ali Al Rais. The top representatives also officially inaugurated the airline’s new twice-weekly Islamabad service that began on April 1. “Islamabad represents our 49th international destination, and our fourth destination in Pakistan, after Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar,” said Al Baker. Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Islamabad twice each week.

Air Arabia flies to Saudi
SHARJAH: Air Arabia launched its inaugural flights to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Air Arabia’s chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani, CEO Adel Ali and other officials accompanied the flight. It was followed by Air Arabia’s inaugural flights to two other destinations in Saudi Arabia: Dammam and Riyadh. Sheikh Abdullah said: “We are extremely pleased to start operations to Jeddah, and I would like to thank the Saudi Arabian government and aviation authorities for their role in facilitating our operations.”

Air India set to launch  new budget airline
MANAMA: Air India is launching a new all-Economy Class, budget airline next April for Keralites in Bahrain and other Gulf countries. Fares could be 25-percent cheaper than standard, said Air India’s newly-appointed regional director for Gulf, Middle East and Africa, Sanjeev Talwar. “The airline board has approved a proposal to start the service from Kerala to all the Gulf countries, except Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Besides the Kerala-Gulf sector, it will also fly on the Chennai-South East Asia sectors. The all-Economy Class aircraft will encourage ticketless travel on the Gulf-India sector.”

Two flights start from RAK
RAS AL KHAIMAH: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Gulf Air launched inaugural flights to Ras Al Khaimah International Airport from Karachi and Abu Dhabi respectively last month. PIA used a Boeing 737 to launch the operation. The flight will cater to the large Pakistani community residing in the emirate by offering competitive fares with a return flight from the emirate costing Dh520, including tax.  The Ras Al Khaimah-Karachi direct flights will help passengers connect to 40 international destinations and 33 domestic destinations from the Pakistani city. Meanwhile, Gulf Air has started five flights a week between Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi using an Airbus 320.

Etihad to increase London flights
ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways announced it will increase its number of non-stop flights to London by 50 per cent to 15 direct flights per week. The new flights offer guests more choice and consistent departure times to London. Etihad will operate both daylight and overnight flights, which will result in a major increase in the availability of connecting flights. The airline’s guests arriving on the overnight flight from Abu Dhabi will be able to take advantage of optimal connections to morning flights leaving for destinations in North America. Guests also have the option of daily flights to London, with advantageous connections to the UK and continental Europe. The new flights will go into effect October 26, 2004, with the start of Etihad’s new winter schedule.

QA offers new Fly & Rail service
DOHA: For those travelling to Europe, and in particular to Germany, Qatar Airways is now offering an interesting new Fly & Rail service for its passengers, in association with Deutsche Bahn, a deal that will allow passengers connections to some 6,000 German railway stations. Qatar Airways will now be able to offer its passengers access not only to Frankfurt and Munich Airport , but to 14 further airports all over Germany – and even in Switzerland! Connections will be available to Basel, Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig/Halle, Munich, Munster, Nuremberg, and Stuttgart.
The Fly & Rail deal is available for the entire Deutsche Bahn network, and is valid on all train services, including the fast ICE. Details of connections can be obtained either through Qatar Airways or via the Deutsche Bahn website, which also offers an English service.

Kuwait to start new airline
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s first private low-fare passenger airline will start operations soon following the completion of a public offering to sell part of the company shares, an airline official said. Al-Jazeera Airways was established in May as a shareholding company with a capital of KD10 million ($34 million), 30 per cent of which is owned by a group of core founders and the rest was offered to the public on May 26.
The offering for the 70 million shares with a book value of $24 million was oversubscribed by almost 13 times with bids totalling around $300 million, Jassem Boodai, one of the main founders, was quoted as saying. “After making the necessary official procedures, we hope to start operations within the next few months, most likely before the end of the year,” he said, without saying which destinations it would serve.

GF launches sky bookshop
MANAMA: Gulf Air announced the launch of another innovative in-flight service – Bookshop in the Sky, as it flew author Simon Kernick from London to Bahrain to mark the launch of its latest onboard service last month. Bookshop in the Sky is available on Gulf Air flights between Bahrain and London and on all the airline’s long-haul flights. In addition to sales of bestsellers and new publications, the service will also feature screen interviews with authors, and signed copies of selected titles.

Cathay to increase Sydney flights
DUBAI: Cathay Pacific Airways announced that from October 31, 2004, it will add an additional non-stop flight to Sydney, creating a thrice-daily service to Sydney everyday of the week. The airline now offers the most frequencies between Hong Kong and Sydney as well as Australia than any other airlines. The new service will bring the total number of flights to Sydney to 21 weekly. The total number of flights to Australia will also be increased to 43 per week. The airline currently operates a double-daily non-stop service between Hong Kong and Sydney. The new flight will give customers more flexibility and choice.