Gulf Air lays on extra flights as regional demand climbs for holidays


Gulf Air is laying on dozens of extra flights to meet soaring regional demand, despite the global slump.

It is beefing up services to Jeddah and high-demand regional stations like Cairo and Beirut, the airline said.

Thirty extra flights between Jeddah and the airline's four Gulf stations are planned until December 31, for the Umrah pilgrimage, commercial and customer services vice-president Adel Ali said.

"Besides increased capacity for Umrah, we shall operate additional flights to regional markets like Beirut and Cairo for Eid, Christmas and New Year holidays," he said.

"The decision has been taken in view of the increased demand. There has been a shift in the tourist movement.

"People who used to go to Europe and the US for tourism purposes are now shifting their destinations to places of interest in our own region. Gulf Air is committed to catering to this new demand."

The global slump following the September 11 attacks in the US will continue during the first half of 2002, but the worst is over, said Ali.

"We have already seen the worst, and it can now only go better. We are very optimistic that businesses will pick up and go back to the pre-crisis level during the second half of next year," he said.

Gulf Air's present fleet of 30 aircraft will drop to 26 by next year and the airline has announced global plans to shed 400 to 450 jobs by the end of the year.

"The recent staff redundancy programme was an adjustment in the number of cabin crew required for revised business," said Ali.

Ali said Gulf Air would continue to examine the cost reduction opportunities in all areas possible.