The national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Gulf Air, has announced it will be resuming flights to the Greek capital, Athens, with a four times weekly link to Athens International Airport due to start on June 16, 2014. The airline suspended the route in March 2012 for commercial reasons following a “prolonged period of challenging operating conditions,” it said.
The airline’s decision reinforces its new strategy of strengthening its network by serving strong international destinations that offer a good mix of business and leisure demand. The route will be flown by an Airbus A320ER configured in a two-class arrangement, featuring 14 Falcon Gold Class seats and 96 Economy Class seats.
“We are seeing unique business and tourism opportunities in Greece alongside positive signs of the country’s economic recovery. Accordingly, and on the back of Gulf Air’s recent network expansion to key destinations such as Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) and Thiruvananthapuram in India, I am delighted to announce the return of our services to Athens,” said Maher Salman Al Musallam, acting chief executive officer, Gulf Air.
The resumed Gulf Air service between Athens and Bahrain will offer passengers improved connections between Greece and Bahrain. When the route was previously flown by the carrier up to 11,000 annual bi-directional O&D passengers flew between the two countries. The airline previously used a mix of A319 and A320 narrowbodies on the route, more recently deploying smaller Embraer E190s prior to its closure.
“Flights to Athens will appeal to Bahrain and GCC residents as the Greek capital is popular with both business and leisure travellers. We expect Athens to be a successful addition to our network and look forward to a continuation of our strong ties with the Greek capital,” added Al Musallam.
In our analysis below we look in greater detail at O&D demand between Bahrain and Athens. After Gulf Air suspended its operations in March 2012, demand fell to just 3,300 passengers last year, the lowest level since 2003, with the main flows travelling via a one-stop offering from Qatar Airways via Doha.