Gulf Air signs $20m revamp deal
Manama, January 18, 2014
Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air is to undergo a $20 million aircraft refit that aims to significantly improve the flying experience for passengers, said a report.
The deal was announced on the sidelines of the Bahrain International Airshow yesterday, where contracts were signed with Avianor, Zodiac Aerospace and BE Aerospace.
Starting from June, work will begin on four of Gulf Air's fleet of six A330s as each in turn is retrofitted with new seats and a revamped interior throughout, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The new business class Falcon Gold seats will be 22 inches wide and fully recline to form a 1.9 metre-long bed complete with privacy partition, massage facility and laptop storage compartment.
Economy class customers, meanwhile, will be able to enjoy an 18-inch wide seat featuring a four-inch recline, an adjustable head and foot rest and greater legroom thanks to the seats' slimmer design.
All seats will feature an integrated audio-video on demand entertainment system with individual touch screens, a USB charging port and a suite of movies, video and audio in several languages at the passengers' fingertips.
The revamp is aimed at future-proofing the fleet for the next half decade, according to Gulf Air acting chief executive Maher Salman Al Musallam.
"The aircraft have undergone refurbishment in the past six years or so, but we are looking ahead to the next five years," he said.
"We want to match our competitors by having the fully-flat beds in business class and we are renewing our economy class seats as well, which are basically old seats that we would like to get rid of and put in new seats with a very modern entertainment system."
Initially, the deal will focus on two-thirds of Gulf Air's fleet of A330s with the remaining two aircraft only undergoing refit if the airline is satisfied with the work, said acting chief technical officer Jamal Hashim.
"We are going to start with four aircraft but we have the intention of renewing the other two, with the aim of creating commonality," he added.
Avianor chief executive Earl Diamond, whose company is overseeing the project, estimated that each refit would take between 30 to 40 days.
"Gulf Air has asked us, in support of their green policies, to dispose of or repurpose the old seats in an environmentally-friendly way and we are committed to doing that," he said.
"The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive for refit at the beginning of June and the remaining three aircraft will come 'nose to tail' straight after each other." Gulf Air's renewed fleets of A330s will have 184 seats in economy class and 30 in Falcon Gold, the same as the existing configuration.
Also yesterday Bahrain signed a model aviation agreement with the Czech Republic at the show.
Under the agreement, Czech carriers can now operate to Bahrain without any restrictions, Civil Aviation Affairs assistant under-secretary Ahmed Nemat Ali said.
"The warmth of relations between the two nations has resulted in the signing that will open up Bahrain and Czech skies to the carriers of both nations. Traffic rights are open to both nations," he said.
Czech Civil Aviation Department director Jaromir Stolc said that with the signing, both Czech Airlines and Travel Service can now operate to Bahrain. The agreement would result in an enhanced people-to-people exchange.
Airline operations are expected to start by the first quarter of next year, he added.-TradeArabia News Service