Blue-sky boutique offers fleet for hire

Gulf Air is broadening its services by offering its aircraft for private charters.

Boeing 787-9
Available for private charter: The largest aircraft in the airline’s fleet, the Boeing 787-9. Picture: Gulf Air.

In a move to develop a new revenue stream, Bahraini flag-carrier, Gulf Air, has decided to make its fleet of airliners available to individuals or organisations for private charters.

The move adds an additional service to the scheduled operations for which the airline is known.

Wealthy extended families in the wider Arabian Gulf region often charter aircraft for private flights – for example, to Europe for summer breaks, or to Africa or Pakistan for hawking trips. Some airlines also operate charter services for groups such as sports teams and their support staff.

The launch of private charter services will give Gulf Air’s clientele the ability to book direct charter flights to destinations off the airline’s normal route map, at times that suit their requirements. The initial such charter, for example, was to Malaga, southern Spain, a location not normally served by the Muharraq-based airline.

It foresees its new service also being used for events such as ‘destination weddings’ and corporate delegations.

The move is one more step in the airline’s pathway to transforming itself into a ‘boutique carrier’, reinforcing its focus on product and customer experiences that allow it to compete with larger rivals in the region, by offering something different.

Following the Malaga flight, Gulf Air’s interim CEO, Captain Waleed Abdulhameed AlAlawi, described it as “yet another achievement to add as a direct result of the success of our boutique strategy, as we continue to cater to passengers’ preferences in the tourism and travel sector”.

The new charter concept is another aspect of the airline’s business model to offer its boutique services to a more niche clientele, while highlighting the key services the airline is renowned for. As well as handling all the background logistical details of a charter, the company, like any executive jet operator, will also accommodate requests for specific facilities in the cabin, such as customised menus.

 The airline is making both its Airbus A320-family and Boeing 787-9 aircraft available for the new venture.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.