MANAMA: Gulf Air’s resumption of flights to the US will only be possible when the last batch of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets enter the fleet, the airline’s chairman Zayed Alzayani has said.
Mr Alzayani, who is also the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister, said yesterday that flights to the US by the national carrier were not possible for now as the airline did not have the necessary equipment.
According to him, of the 10 Boeing 787-9s ordered by Gulf Air, the first six did not have crew rest areas, which meant that they could not operate non-stop flights longer than 10 hours.
“We have made sure that the last four planes will include the crew rest option allowing us to operate longer non-stop flights,” he said.
According to him, New York and Washington D.C. would be the first destinations in the US that Gulf Air would fly to as soon as it can.
Mr Alzayani said routes to the Americas will also depend on the viability of feeder traffic from the wider network.
The airline's new strategy announced earlier this year includes plans to add 39 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft to the fleet to expand to over 60 destinations by 2023 covering the key markets of Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and, ultimately, North America.
To begin with, five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and two Airbus A320neo aircraft will be entering service by year-end.
Two Dreamliner services have been announced so far this year: the Bahrain-London, Heathrow service and the Bahrain- Casablanca, Morocco service.
Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will offer 282 seats in a two-class configuration, with 26 Falcon Gold Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats – 32 per cent more than its previous wide body offering.