Gulf Air, time for a name change?

Gulf Air logo

Bahrain now officially owns Gulf Air, well, within 6 months anyway, once they divvied up the assets, so will it by then hire some bright spark branding company and spends millions of Dinars to change the name to it’s national flag? Will it then be called “Bahrain Air” and leave a rich heritage of decades and a rich history behind?

I’ve worked for Gulf Air for 13 years, that was my first “real” job and I love the company and its people to bits. I have enjoyed the majority of my time there, but on hearing the inevitable announcements of first Qatar leaving it to form its own airline, followed by Abu Dhabi then finally Oman to leave it the sole property of Bahrain leaves me with mixed feelings.

From a business point of view this is ludicrous of course. Airlines much bigger than all of the Gulf’s carriers put together declared that they cannot survive on their own and sought at least code sharing agreements, if not full partnerships with competing entities in order to weather the vagaries of the fickle airline business, yet we in the Gulf, with a total population under 30 million choose to split up rather than combine companies, thus, demonstrating that our ego is much much bigger than our business acumen and sense.

G-DHDV Dove (Devon VP981) Coventry, August 2000, painted as G-AMJZ for Gulf Air anniversary. source: Paul Middleton

Okay, fine, each little and large country wants to fly its own flag, further demonstrating that there is no real value to the “cooperation” in the acronym GCC and although that some could possibly break even and probably make a profit, they collectively are wasting windows of competitive opportunities in a global environment. But again, the whole scenario is ego based.

So what is to become now of Gulf Air? The most ancient of airlines in the region? I can’t see it making a profit. With this latest move it has ceased to be a regional airline and has become a local provincial one that has no future, except if the government of Bahrain signs comprehensive open skies agreements with various destinations that Gulf Air can become a regional player with landing and boarding rights to and from those destinations. But again, I see a lot of difficulties in that as the whole roost in the Gulf is ruled by jealousy rather than cooperation.

I wish you the best of luck Gulf Air, you will definitely need it going forward and thanks again very much for the opportunities you have given me. God bless all the good people who are dependent on you and may they fly high with you.

But you need more than luck at the moment I think.


  1. white wings

    this is a sad adieu on so many levels, personal one for you of course but also on a political one for the unity of Gulf states, i really don’t see this happening any time soon, we are unable to agree on one currency or allow GCC citizens entrance without passports, so united airlines had to go as there is, sadly, no unity
    good luck to you though 🙂

  2. F

    I wish the airline, the best of luck. I hope the services improve and they do become a successful operation.

    I hope pilots and crew, who are leaving, will get jobs within the
    region and beyond.

    Gulf Air had to do this in order to get healthy. Certain other operations, like fuel and services, need to be merged as they
    will contribute to its success.

    White Wings – We need more economic and social integration
    within the Gulf and other Arab states. I hope that develops faster
    than the present rate.

  3. Finlandi

    my uncle works for gulf air, and has been doing so for over 15 years.. a couple of years ago they demoted him to another job and now makes only 25% of his original salary.. they said the reason was cutting costs… has gulf air EVER made real profit? all i have been hearing is of them losing money all the time no matter what they do.. now with bahrain being the sole country in charge, i see a very dark future for the company…

  4. Munther

    That’s it ! This is the end of Gulf Air ! 🙁 I am aching ever since the departure of Qatar, and the whole thing was coming ever since then but I was keeping my fingers crossed for the sister countries to come back, how naive was that ! :unsure:

    So now we’ll call it Dilmun Air

  5. ~ Sweeety ~

    Hope they do something to improve the situation of the company, otherwise its the first step into closing down ! :sideways:

  6. abdulla

    Bahrain does need its own carrier, but if the long-term plan is to privatize the company, I don’t see a point in calling it “Bahrain Air” 🙂

  7. Redbelt

    I swear I saw it coming a year back. I started joking about it but the more I did the more it made sense.
    I got some pictures from my last trip. I’ll post about that on my blog.

  8. bahraini4eva

    I believe that the GCC should focus to enhance relations in many more important arenas rather than having a joint airline, for example the single currency and 100% company ownership rights that each country should provide to all of the GCC nationals that Only Bahrain currently grants! It’s apparent that the reason for the complete ownership of Gulf Air for Bahrain is to have it restructured accordingly in order to turn the million dollar losses per day into profits!
    The fact that Gulf Air will now be under the supervision of the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company gives me complete hope and optimism about its future, since it will now be run and managed in a economical and financial manner (aka transparency), not political (aka corruption)!

    Congratulations Bahrain, let’s see Gulf Air fly like it never has before!

  9. excalamation mark

    Qatar and Abu Dhabi each have their own airlines, and yet they seem that they’re doing well ….

    Bahrain has the potential to make Gulf Air no. 1 , but where seems to be the problem ?

    A starting point wpuld by cutting down the costs spent on useless advertising … whats the use of it when you’re not making money !

  10. anonymous

    first i would like to wish Gulf Air the best of luck coz they really need it ….. same same Mahmood personally i won’t deny the role that the company played in my life since i was a child as one of my parents was a staff there. I was lucky enough to witness some of the golden years of the company at the end of the eighties and the beginning of the ninties, still remember the B-767’s when they were still used to Sydney and Melbourne, and the B-737 on my short trips till they were replaced by the A-320’s. I hope the government won’t change the name, Gulf Air as a brand is still famous they need to work on improving it and making it more marketable I used to like the ‘Golden Falcon services’ slogan or 7’adamat al-9aqr il-thahaby, besides the ‘old’ eagle’ was more classier than the new one. sorry for the long comment, inshalla Gulf Air will return one day ‘illa sabeq 3ahadha methl ma ygoloon’. 🙂

  11. can we talk

    this is the best thing to happen to bahrain for a long time, i have been praying for this day for a long time. it is the obvious direction for success.

    I hope the government won’t change the name, Gulf Air

    they shouldnt change the name, but they need to associate it with bahrain now, by tacking bahrain on to the name somehow

    Qatar and Abu Dhabi each have their own airlines, and yet they seem that they’re doing well

    IMO, the airline should not be privatized, but seen as an arm of the country. actually as far as i know, emirates air is not doing well at all for itself, it is however doing great for dubai and the UAE and that is how it should be.

    A starting point wpuld by cutting down the costs spent on useless advertising

    A good place to sart would be to stop giving away free tickets to every Tom, Dick and Harriette from staff who sell their free tickets to their friends to ex-top management whose whole families including their housemaids travel free on first class to people who have lifetime arrangements for free travel on the carrier for the rest of their lives. that’s why i stopped travelling on Gulf Air, despite their hospitality. it is very irritating to know i had paid for my seat, in economy, while people were travelling on first class and business for free. a family i know used to “take” their mother everytime she wanted to go or return to or from Europe or the US, several times a year, and come back the following the day, on first class. chinna mal aboohum!!!

  12. expat in Saudi

    As a regular user of Gulf Air for our annual trips back to Australia for the summer school holidays, we were surprised and a little annoyed when about 3 weeks ago they cancelled a pile of long-haul flights for what we heard to be the foreseeable future. Australia, South Africa, Ireland among others. Imagine the panic around here (we live in Saudi) when many expats had to rearrange their flights home at the last minute when every expat already had their flights booked on other airlines. We have managed to squeeze onto another airline but some of our friends had to totally rearrange their lives. I hope the Australian flight gets reinstated but if not, we will become frequent flyers of some other airline (not Emirates, their connections are terrible, probably Cathay) instead of supporting local business. Its a shame.

  13. Concerned Citizen X


    It is no surprise that ‘Gulf Air’ will become wholly owned by the Government of Bahrain within the coming months. It has been a prediction of mine for years going back to when GA was posting significant losses yearly; my friends working there used to tell me that there was a lot of theft from within the company by the big shots and this was tolerated so as to gradually deter the other shareholding countries. It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but there really were indications and there is always some fact that is inarguably true.

    You may or may not have seen evidence of this while working there.

    I do agree with you that the GCC states will never co-operate in any important matters (because of their egos), rather that sharing a pie and each having a piece, they all want a pie of their own.

    I don’t really care for the airline itself (in general) but rather fear for the hundreds of Bahrainis that may (an inevitable fact) lose their jobs.

    Time will tell…


  14. mishmish

    I too am not surprised, but I think it is a real shame – Gulf Air could be flying so high right now, after all it was in pole position for a long time, with not a lot of competition around.

    Looking at the competition now, from Etihad to Emirates, I find it hard to see how GF is going to get up and compete at this stage.

    Nothing is impossible, of course, and I do hope for the best, as I too have very fond memories of the airline and find it sad to see it having to downsize and restructure at a time when the competition is continually expanding.

    Most important, the airline also has strategic importance for Bahrain in terms of jobs and I do hope that everyone will be fine, even if it means having to perhaps joining one of the other airlines in the region.

    sniff…..Mahmood, where’s the icon with tears in his eyes ? 🙁

  15. Emirati

    Gulf air was always a mismanaged company. It was under-developed, too big for bahrain and too small for the aspirations of the GCC. Abu Dhabi gave it a 200 million dollar bailout before leaving.

    The creation of Etihad had more to do with the management at Abu Dhabi civil aviation growing tiresome of Gulf air’s attitude and approach, than with anything else. Abu Dhabi poured millions of Dollars into highly unprofitable Gulf air, all to no avail.

  16. Arabian Princess

    As an Omani, I’ve been feeling that although Gulf Air was considered the national carrier and the government ownership was higher than Oman Air we are not benefiting much from it. The Hub was always Manama and AD .. and after AD left it took GA a while till they operated direct flight from muscat. If that was the case, Oman would be better off concentrating on its own airline rather than an airline that is taking more than giving the country.

  17. Johnster

    Gulf Air will be OK – the routes to London and Dubai are packed. I oftemn get bumped down to coach. Even if they just ran those two routes they would make tons of money.

    The point Dose has totally missed, though, is to go for being a hub. No reason why you shouldn’t be able to buy a cheap ticket in Joburg or Sydney to London and for it to be with gulf Air. That will get his loading up.

    Talking of Dose, does anyone know about the status of the manslaughter case against him?

    Was he acquitted?

  18. rez

    Gulf Air is going to become a lean and mean operational airline unlike Qatar or Etihad which rely on the government’s constant funding. I agree it is sad seeing some routes go but their yields (cost per seat) were too low therefore making a loss. But I’m sure if they become profitable there might be some positive changes like reinstating some routes.

    Besides if the Australian, South African, and Irish routes were so important then there wouldn’t be so many travelers sitting on their laurels doing nothing

  19. Al Amir

    There is 1.5 Billion Bahrain Dinar dept for Gulf Air in the market, mostly to travel trade and other trade partners. Which GF lawyers are tired arguing the case in the courts around the world. Passengers who wants compensation, others who are awaiting their cheques after reaching their sales target, and many who among them.

    If the trade name Gulf Air remains in the market though its the most beautiful name an airline can have in our region, they will have to clear of all these depts first. But if they liquidise the company, and call up for bankcrupcy, they’re freed from it as in they can have quiet good name such as Bahrain Airways/ or Air Bahrain or else El Bahrainiya or something like that, and start over again. I think they should keep the falcon though. It can be arranged as if they bought the falcon trade mark (which I believe has never been registered as a trade mark as such in anywhere in the world).

    As of Oman, its about time to start their own airline, good move, and in the mean time the wrong move at wrong time. When the government of Bahrain or to be more specific HE the Crow Prince of Bahrain (with his big business idea) requested Oman to pull out they should have not done it just that way. As there are 200 staff working in just the World Wide Contact Centre for GF, about 145 at the airport and about maybe around 45 people at their town office -(FIGUERS ARE FROM OMAN NEWS PAPERS)- and many more working indirectly for GF in Muscat Airport. Now all these plus our pour Bahraini brothers and sisters are also going to lose their jobs, though there is strict order from the Bahrain GOV not to touch a single Bahraini citizen (happy for them). However the company will have to remove however some of the staff who has got very bad records. Which is a good idea I believe.

    However, all the 4 partners had currupt people working from their respective countries. But its sad to see a mother who gave birth to 4 other regional airlines (Emirates, Qatar, Etihad and Oman Air) dying like this, hopeless!

  20. Ali K

    gulfair are cutting flights from Aus to bahrain.. its about time!! that plane is the most crapiest thing i have ever been on..
    the first thing that bahrain should do is.. make a better airlines.. and fix that bullsh*t of an airport we have..

    keep on dreaming that will happen.. 🙄

  21. annoyer......

    I would like to say that gulf air is a sky princes generally 😉 but will it really be owned by bahrain??????????
    if YES! then it will be unpopular (i guess) because if the company gave it a new name 💡 then the world will not realise “bahrain air” as “gulf air”.
    * And plz make bahrain air more attractive……… by paintings.

  22. ayeshaa

    😎 Actually its high time that people in GulfAir realise that its the attitude of the management to be blamed on this downfall…..they concenterated only on the european sectors……the south east asian and indian sub-continent were treated like second class citizens……. broken aircraft with broken seats and the most horrific thing on board after the food are the Male Cabin crew……such UGLY AND HORRENDOUS LOOKING CREW BUT my goodness the attitude inspite of their lack of knowledge,bad communication skill…….if they were in my country they would be good enough for cleaners and thrash collectors 😛 mean ha! well thats the truth ……….even some of the female european and arabic flight attendants were like nightmare…….
    inspite of bragging about chefs on board they would have stale,n horrible food served on board.the Loser Chef would just take a stroll down the economy cabin doing nothing just gazing around only concerned to serve the first and european sectors passengers……
    gulf air should learn from emirates,qatar and etihad where they value their passengers no matter wht part of world they come from……….and very amazing looking pleasing personality crew on board………
    gulf air deserves wht it sowed……..

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