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Tue 27 Nov 2012 05:10 PM

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Bahrain's Gulf Air eyes India expansion

Struggling national carrier said to be looking to launch three new destinations

Bahrain's Gulf Air eyes India expansion
Gulf Air

Bahrain's struggling national carrier, Gulf Air, is planning to expand its services to India, it was reported on Tuesday.

The airline, which is undergoing a major restructuring plan, is looking to fly to three more cities in India, taking the total number destinations in the country to seven, local media reported.

Gulf Air, which currently flies to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kochi, is considering operating to Pune, Ahmedabad and Amritsar subject to official approvals, according to comments attributed to Karim Makhlouf, its chief commercial officer.

He said the airline earns about eight percent of its total revenue from the India sector, but has almost exhausted its bilateral rights by offering 16,600 seats a week.

"We want to grow this market in harmony with the aviation authorities and the airports here," he was quoted as saying

"Our approach, unlike our competition, is to develop our existing routes and products and not act as a vacuum cleaner to take away all Indian traffic," he added.

Last week, Gulf Air's board set up a new committee to oversee the airline's restructuring plan.

The airline said the committee would have to make "some tough decisions and choices" in the short term to ensure its long term sustainability.

The board, led by chairman Sheikh Khaled bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, also deputy prime minister, has passed a resolution to form an executive restructuring committee which will also monitor the spending of the funding recently granted by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Last month, Bahrain's king issued a royal decree authorising the government to extend BD185m ($491m) to the carrier.

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