Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, today unveiled a new vision for the airline focused on a ’boutique’ business model.
The airline’s senior management gave an insight into its plan to become the ‘airline of choice’ in the region at the Gulf Air Annual Commercial Conference, held at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Bahrain today.
The conference was attended by the airline’s chairman, executive management, station managers from the airline’s network, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) officials, Bahrain Airport Company and Gulf Air Group executives.
The strategy will focus on product and customer experience, while the overall goal will be profitability and not filling planes.
It will include the airline providing smaller and cozier cabins; offering luxury products and unique experience; high personalisation; most convenient connections at Bahrain airport; and a five-star lounge in the new terminal at Bahrain, said officials.
“Gulf Air will differentiate itself as a boutique airline that is different and unique in the way it operates compared to the bigger airlines that are more volume driven. This approach will give the airline a competitive advantage that will translate in its new fleet, new Falcon Gold class offering, new exclusive products, new destinations for 2019 and its presence in the new terminal at Bahrain International Airport due to open towards the end of the year,” they said.
Gulf Air hopes to fly to Damascus in Syria soon and plans are underway to start flights to New York too, officials revealed.
Gulf Air chairman Zayed R Alzayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, said the airline today has a clear path and new strategy to move forward in an efficient way.
“Gulf Air will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year and the new strategy will make the airline stronger and we look forward to a great future,” he said.
Gulf Air is one of the top three employers in Bahrain and is among the top three companies in revenue generation, he said.
Alzayani said: “This is an even more exciting year for Gulf Air as we continue our efforts and plans to portray the airline as a solid national asset that serves the Kingdom of Bahrain and yet caters to an international audience. Today we announced our boutique concept, which will see the airline adapt a new business model to shine amongst the competitors in our own unique way. Working hand in hand with Gulf Air Group, BTEA and BAC with the launch of the new terminal, will allow the new Gulf Air to represent Bahrain to the world and open more bridges to and from the island.”
With the new business model concept, Gulf Air aims to grow strategically in size and will expand to more boutique destinations in 2019 and continue its fleet modernisation programme by receiving two additional Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s and five Airbus A320neos this year, said Gulf Air CEO Krešimir Kučko.
“Our vision is to be the airline of choice with a global footprint and to be the best in class. Our mission is to connect Bahrain to the world, while enhancing the customer experience by providing safe, reliable and seamless travel,” he said.
The new approach will include: Innovative marketing strategy focused on non-traditional methods; Robust network strategy that clearly identifies how Gulf Air wants to be positioned in the region; route rationalisation, capacity deployment; proper passenger mix; and corporate focus.
The airline will seek a global footprint with small fleet by having effective strategic partnerships, he said.
The Middle East is one of the most competitive markets in the aviation sector and the ’boutique approach’ will differentiate Gulf Air from other airlines in the region, said Vincent Coste, COO of the airline.
Taking the example of the hospitality industry where boutique hotels have huge appeal among discerning customers, he said Gulf Air will focus on providing luxury products and unique experiences and high personalisation.
Bahrain International Airport, with its passenger-friendly size and services, will be a contributing factor in Gulf Air’s new strategy.
“This approach will be in contrast with the ‘made for the masses’ approach of rivals in the region,” said Coste.
The airline will target three key segments with its boutique approach – Corporate, Millennials and the Premium Leisure. These passengers are digital savvy; frequent flyers, focused on travel experience and less sensitive to price, he said.
The airline’s five-year network plan will focus more on Europe, premium leisure destinations and connections to US and China. It will rely less on the Indian Sub-Continent, he added.
Some of the premium products the airline plans to offer include: Airport lounge access to all passengers (at a fee); stop-over package at Bahrain; valet parking for premium travellers; chance to use fast lane at the Causeway; repricer and limousine service. The airline will also soon launch a home check-in service in Bahrain.
He said the commercial strategy is based on six pillars and 24 projects aligned with the boutique airline vision and is entirely focused on the bottom line. The six pillars are: Maximising of network efficiency, maximising of revenue; focus on yields; reduction of distribution costs; growing product scope and brand appeal; and the establishment of an efficient organisation.