By Andy Sambidge
Carrier's CEO Samer Majali says Afghanistan route will be the sixth new destination in 2011
Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain will start flying to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan from June 15 with four weekly flights, it said on Wednesday.
The announcement follows the airline's recent launch of services to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Isfahan in Iran, Basra in Iraq, Milan in Italy and Geneva in Switzerland.
The carrier said the Kabul launch will bring the number of new destinations opened in 2011 to six.
Gulf Air will be the first 'full service' scheduled commercial carrier in the Middle East to connect Afghanistan, the airline added.
Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali said: "The launching of our service to Kabul follows extensive safety and security audits, and further demonstrates our strategy to connect the Kingdom of Bahrain with niche and under-served markets within the region that have high growth potential."
He added: "By connecting Kabul with Bahrain we are opening a huge commercial opportunity for Afghanistan's well known traditional industries such as carpets and gems, and theindustrial sectors namely construction and engineering, IT/telecommunications, transportation, and of course mining, which are poised for take-off.
"We also foresee a huge opportunity for Bahrain's private sector businesses in Afghanistan."
Gulf Air said it will be operating initially an Airbus A320 aircraft offering 16 Falcon Gold seats and 120 Economy class seats between Bahrain and Kabul.