Gulf Air to expand India operations

Thursday, 31 January 2008, 08:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: After inking a bilateral civil aviation pact with India here, Bahrain's flagship carrier Gulf Air Thursday announced daily flights from Hyderabad and upgrading flight frequency to daily on its Kochi and Kolkata routes.

The country's undersecretary for civil aviation affairs, Abdulrahman Moh'd Al Gaoud, told reporters that the airlines would soon lease wide-bodied aircraft to meet its expansion plans.

He also hoped the Indian government would soon open Kozhikode airport for Gulf Air.

"The Indian government has assured us. We would soon be able to fly to Kozhikode. India is cautiously opening its sky. We have to appreciate that," said Gaoud.

Gulf Air perceives India as a huge market. "Even if more players come in, there is enough space for all of us," Gulf Air CEO Bjorn Naf said when asked about the carrier's plans to compete with private airliners in India and the Gulf.

India would soon open its Gulf routes for private air operators. This would provide more choice to the over four million Indian diaspora in the Gulf.

"India is an important market for us and our strategic friend. We have free trade agreement with India and have mutual cooperation in many fields," said Naf.

"The success of this swift bilateral aviation agreement between the Kingdom of Bahrain and India presents a golden opportunity for the two countries to boost their economic and cultural development," Naf added.

"Being the first Middle East carrier to operate to India, Gulf Air considers this as a token of appreciation for its long-standing commitment to serve India," he said.

Gulf Air also has ground expansion plans. The airline is looking for suitable tie-up for a having a maintenance, repair and overhauling unit in India.
Source: IANS
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