Gulf Air Moves Forward With US Plans

Bahrain’s flag carrier last served the US more than 25 years ago.

Credit: Joe Pries
A Gulf Air Lockheed L-1011 TriStar pictured at JFK in 1990.

Gulf Air is pushing ahead with plans to offer nonstop flights between Bahrain and the US for the first time since 1997.

An application has been filed with the US Transportation Department (DOT) requesting a foreign air carrier permit and exemption authority to operate scheduled and charter services.

The state-owned airline hopes to operate passenger, freight, and mail flights between the countries under the full extent of the US-Bahrain air transport agreement, which has been in place since May 1999.

In its application, Gulf Air said it anticipates launching nonstop service from Bahrain to the US upon receipt of all required government approvals. It added that the plans were in the public interest as they will provide additional shipping and transport options between the countries.

According to data provided by DOT, Gulf Air previously served New York John F Kennedy (JFK) from July 1994 to February 1997.

Various routes to the US city were offered during that time, including nonstop flights from Bahrain (BAH), as well as one-stop options via Abu Dhabi (AUH) in the United Arab Emirates, Doha (DOH) in Qatar, and Larnaca (LCA) in Cyprus.

Speaking in 2019, then-CEO Kresimir Kucko suggested that a return to the US was on the cards, saying that the carrier hoped to begin flights on its own metal within three years. The airline currently holds exemption authority from the DOT, authorizing it to market service via codeshares with American Airlines and Etihad Airways.

Gulf Air was established in 1950 and currently serves markets in 28 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa with a fleet of 33 aircraft, including seven Boeing 787-9s.