Bahrain F1 air ticket sales on track
Manama, April 18, 2009
Air ticket sales for the upcoming Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix remain on track despite an anticipated slump because of the global financial crisis.
Although Gulf Air has cut back on some of its hospitality for the event, officials say they expect to match the 50,000 passengers that were flown in last year.
Bahrain's three-day F1 feast roars into action on April 24 and will feature action from the F1 World Championship, Porsche Supercup, GP2 Asia and Speedcar Series and Chevrolet V8 Middle East Championship.
A host of off-track entertainment has also been lined up, including live music, acrobats, stilt-walkers, balloon makers, acrobats, musicians, professional face painters and a children's play area.
The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) will also showcase the first public exhibition of 24 famous F1 cars dating back to 1932, some of which are worth millions of dinars.
"What we're finding is that people are moving down the cabin rather than not flying," a Gulf Air spokesman told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"We've already had to upgrade our flight (to a larger plane) from Dubai on race-day to accommodate demand and we are looking at other routes where we may have to do the same thing."
The spokesman said it was impossible to compare last year's ticket sales with this year's uptake because the race was happening almost three weeks later.
But he said it was believed the credit crunch had not inflicted any significant damage.
"Sales of flights are looking healthy, last year we had a 90 per cent seat full-factor during the race and brought about 50,000 people over and we're hoping for about the same this year," said the official.
"In many ways the credit crunch could well work in our favour.
"Whereas in previous years fans from Europe may have gone further afield to Singapore or Melbourne to watch a race, they may well now think it's too far and come to Bahrain instead."
However, the spokesman admitted that the airline had been forced to cut some of its costs.
"It's absolutely business as usual but we are being careful on costs with our hospitality this year," he said.
"We had a large party on the Saturday night (before the race) last year that we're not holding this year, which makes sense as we've got to be a lot more prudent with what we spend now."
Grand Prix tickets are available from the BIC hotline on 17450000 or via its website www.bahraingp.com. They can also be purchased from sales outlets in Seef Mall and City Centre Mall.
Further ticket stands are to be opened at the Gulf Air headquarters in Muharraq and at the arrival hall at Bahrain International Airport shortly.-TradeArabia News Service