Gulf Air, the national airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain, was named the World’s Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022 – and CEO Captain Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi said a mixture of new aircraft and improved service were central to winning the accolade.

Speaking at the Bahrain International Airshow, he said: “When I joined just about over five years ago, Gulf Air was number 89 in the ranking of the world, so we had a plan to bring us further and further towards the leading airlines.

“We started bringing our ranking down and down, as well as we could, and that was done by the introduction of the newer aeroplanes, the improvement in service, the coaching of our staff, the seamless travel experience that we’ve managed to do.

“In the year 2021, we were ranked at 44 and 2022 we are shocked and surprised and honoured to be number 22 in the world. So that was a huge jump for us.”

37 years of experience

Al Alawi joined Gulf Air as the deputy CEO in 2017, bringing with him 37 years of experience in various aviation related positions.

He said Gulf Air had survived the Covid pandemic by being an “agile” and “nimble” operator which sprung into action when the restrictions allowed.

“We managed to increase our network and increase the frequencies to the different destinations we fly,” he explained.

“We added some destinations. This summer we actually started flying to Rome, to Nice, to Milan, to Manchester. So these were new additional routes that we did and then we did Mykanos, Santorini, Sharm el Sheikh, Alexandria, Salalah in Oman.

“We kept just adding more and more destinations to go for the traffic we have. Of course that was not an easy mission.”

Boutique business model

In 2019, Gulf Air announced its boutique business model concept which would reinforce its focus on product and customer experience.

The CEO noted: “We commissioned our new fleet in 2018. For some of the bigger airlines in the neighbourhood and worldwide, the number of passengers they carry is significantly higher than us. So we decided to utilise the boutique model in which we have the personalised touch because we are carrying less passengers.

“The choice of the Dreamliner and the NEOs, are all contributing to the boutique service we provide. We purchased the 787 and started them flying in 2018.

“They do two things: they give us the boutique service we’re looking forward, the comfort to the passengers we’re looking for, as well as the fuel savings that we’re looking forward as an airline which contributes to the CO2 emissions.”
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