Gulf Air to begin new service to Kabul

Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 19:53 by Aviation Correspondent

Gulf Air has announced a new route from Bahrain to Kabul in Afghanistan. There will be four weekly flights in the route from June 15. The move comes after the airline recently launched other services to the Middle East. So far Gulf Air has launched 6 new destinations in 2011 itself.

The flights will be conducted using Airbus A320 aircraft, offering 16 Falcon Gold business class seats and 120 in economy. Flight GF 0742 will leave Bahrain at 11.15am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. From Kabul, flight GF 0741 will leave at 4.50pm, arriving into Bahrain at 6.45pm.

Gulf Air also plans to launch new services to Geneva, Milan, Basra, Isfahan and Addis Ababa as part of its network expansion.

The company feels that Afghanistan has a great potential for growth and has done enough research on safety issues before taking the decision.

After the launch of the new service Gulf will become the only full-service commercial airline to offer flights to Kabul. None of the big players from the Middle East offer services to Kabul, but Afghan carriers Pamir Airways and Ariana Afghan Airlines fly from the capital to destinations including Ankara, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait and Riyadh.

The Bahrain national carrier revealed plans to start flying to Kabul, despite suspending flights to other destinations in the region due to civil unrest.

Flights to neighboring Iran and Iraq, however, have been temporarily suspended until at least March 31, including the newly launched Isfahan and Basra flights.

Gulf Air has also suspended its flights to and from Beirut until March 25, citing crisis in the region and the consequent reduction in passenger demand.

Despite the ongoing irregularities Gulf Air hopes that the new Kabul-Bahrain service would open a huge commercial opportunity. The company believes that the troubled country’s traditional industries such as carpets and gems, and its industrial sectors, which include construction and engineering, IT, telecommunications, transportation, and mining will all largely benefit from the new service.

Gulf Air recently unveiled its new Falcon Gold lounge at Heathrow, nearly three years after the facility was first announced.

Gulf Air operates scheduled services to 45 destinations in 28 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe with a fleet of 34 aircrafts. Its main hub is the Bahrain International Airport.