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13 September, 2005

Falling falcon

In 2002 when Qatar quit Gulf Air, Abu Dhabi remained committed to supporting the carrier.

In 2003 Abu Dhabi said it had no intention of pulling out of Gulf Air.

In 2004 Gulf Air predicted it would be back in the black by 2005.

In July 2005 - just two months ago - Gulf Air appointed a new GM for Abu Dhabi.

In September 2005 Abu Dhabi decides to quit Gulf Air.

According to one analyst:

"The four different governments who own Gulf Air had four different agendas to pursue. This affected the airline's business judgement and profitability."

Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman all now have their own, separate airlines, and rumours persist that Bahrain is considering one. So much for GCC integration and cooperation:

“National airlines and national pride are still more important to the Gulf states than anything else,” a Western diplomat said. “The GCC operates more in name than anything else”. In an ideal world, the six GCC states would sink their money and energy into greater cooperation and coordination – not just of their airlines, but also of aviation services of all kinds.

What a vast shame for an airline with the best service in the region, with the some of the most committed and innovative management around: an airline that could and should have been the united pride of the Arab world.

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32 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that the amount of regional integration in the Gulf is inversely proportional to the price of oil.

13 September, 2005 03:25  
Blogger Mare said...

If the gulf states won't join forces to sustain a profitable venture, no wonder they don't join hands to combat terrorism or to support issues like the Palestianian conflict (although they all say they are against Israel, bla bla bla).

The Gulf states could have so much going for them if they'd stop being silly greedy little children and just grow up for the good of their people.

13 September, 2005 03:50  
Blogger Riddle Of The Sand said...

Throughout history the Arabs have been divided. There have been reports in news papers that during the Arab Cooperation meet, the Kuwaiti and Iraqi diplomats ended up hurling abuses at one another because one of them made insulting statement about the other's moustache.
They really have a long way to go.

13 September, 2005 05:31  
Blogger tov said...

Am I confused here or were we arguing against monopolies just a short while ago (anyone remember Etisalat's woes?).

I'm all for Arab unity and all that. But Arab airlines, and companies in general, will never improve if they don't face competition. Thanks to airline cartels and price fixing, flights from Dubai to Jeddah, Riyadh and many other cities in the Middle East have always been in the DHs 2,500 range. Those are just 2 hour flights! And don't get me started on the service.

Today, prices have gone down significantly, airlines are competing for better service and customers are starting to learn how to demand better service.

As the world gets smaller Arab airlines will face more international competition. Having learned how to be competitive at home can only be a good thing.

13 September, 2005 08:35  
Blogger twisted.ae said...

It is a shame, because I feel Gulf Air really produced a good service. Its seems almost farcical in what perhaps occurs at boardroom level for these airlines...

13 September, 2005 08:58  
Blogger moryarti said...

Looking away from politics, I would say that Gulf Air is a classical example that advertising (on its own) will never work.

I personally knew the CI team behind the "new look" for Gulf Air. The art work is amazing, new look, new uniforms, new identity ..etc

Sad thing is, nothing else changed. The airlines was run by same staff and management, hence, same attitude.

Also, one of the biggest issues with Gulf Air, from a passenger perspective, is that it has always been a "second choice".

I took it a number of times for trips to Bahrain and Jeddah. I only took it cause there weren't anything else available on EK or even Saudia.

I have to say that the overall experience was not impressive at all.

If it was up-to me, i would turn gulfair into a budget carrier.. It keep the golden falcon flying for many reasons:

1. Passengers expectations will drop (You get what you pay for). That means that passengers will not whine about paying too much and getting too little.
Ultamatly, this will lead to building a favouralbe perception/brand. Not a classy one, but propably a profitable one.

2. Due to the global rise in prices (fuel, transportation ...etc) the new budget carrier will always be a first choice for the "masses" (i am not talking about the elite)
This will help GulfAir's cash flow issues.

3. The business module of a "budget airline" will stop Gulf Air's cash hemorrhage (too much overheads is also another problem that gulf air is suffering from).

4. The central location of Bahrain in the GCC area will be a plus for those connecting flights. (it will also help generate more cash for bahrian airport and duty free)

Air Arabia is now profitable (if you overlook any potential copy right suits from any of the SouthPark producers :) )

Also the market anticipating the new Kuwaiti based budget airliner Al- Jazirah airways.

13 September, 2005 09:14  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Sad thing is, nothing else changed. The airlines was run by same staff and management, hence, same attitude.

This isn't quite true - they brought in a whole management team for the restructuring, and they had a great attitude.

In particular I've found the flight attendants - particularly the males who are often Bahrainis - to be incredibly friendly and helpful, even in Economy. Gulf Air seem to have more male, often slightly older, hosties than other airlines, which I think is a good thing for the atmosphere on board, it's less "brittle" than just 100% very pretty, very young girls.

13 September, 2005 09:33  
Blogger moryarti said...

True, but whats the use of a new captain on board if the owner of the ship is still the same person, let alone if that person is made of two or three arab governments :)

Gulf Air flight attendants are nice and friendly (and i totally agree, they are short of that attitude 'thang' we have to deal with on other liners) .. but thats not really enough to keep the falcon up in the air.

I flew via Bahrain on Gulf Air several times. On 2 occasion, me and another passenger both had the same seat numbers .. one was hand written the other was printed!

Ground staff, ticketing, mechanical, catering ... they all have to work in-sync

In Gulf Air, they really worked hard on the front-lines (ones directly interacting with the customers).

But i am convinced that their back-end (no pun intended!) was and is still suffering from too much politics and major budget spasm...

13 September, 2005 10:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu Dhabi as usual is displaying its totall thuggering attitude of we have money and if you don't comply we pull out.

Gulf Air under its new management team has exceeded expectations, despite all the odds against it.

They have recovered financially, without subsidy (unlike other airlines in the reggion) and the atmosphere in GF is just one of perpetual renovation, creativity and enpowerment, show me where else this is happening.

As to the crew and to the Bahrainis, I must say that they are dedicated and willing again despite all the wrong publicity GF got years ago.

James and his team will bring about in term an airline that will be the envy of all the other pretenders who at the end of the day are neither innovative or creative but just copy cats.

It will be business as usual and I am not concerned over the future of Gulf Air thanks to its loyal passengers and the reputation it has managed to regain in the recent years.

See the difference!

13 September, 2005 10:55  
Blogger Emirati said...

Greedy and corrupt ?

Welcome to capitalism ! Of course everyone wants to go their own way nowadays, the GCC is an old dinosaur like Nato, it no longer has a real role. Abu Dhabi cant concentrate on two airlines at once.

Bahrain should just salvage the remains and move on.

BahrAir anyone ?

13 September, 2005 10:59  
Blogger secretdubai said...

"Thuggering" - that is superb! You seem to have coined it at least least as an adjective.

*adds to list of must-use words*

13 September, 2005 11:02  
Blogger The Devil's Advocate said...

I can't see what the fuss is about. From a management point of view surely hvaing the priorities of only one controlling country can only serve to galvanise the vision of the airline. I can only tru to imagine how much buearacratic delay was inherent to every decision GA ever tried to make when there were four controlling partners (regardless of who was chairing).

How will GA be treated by the airports now? Does it get more expensive for them to use AD and Dubai Airports and the services there? How do airlines and airports interact in general?

How do we know when we've got enough airlines? Is there a ratio?

I think it is 100% in AD's interest to focus on it's airline.

13 September, 2005 11:25  
Blogger Desert_Weasel said...

There are still 2 owners (Oman are in there) however it can only get easier getting rid of AD, depending on what they want to do about the cash they may be owed.
Hogan has done a good job and while progress has been slow in places it is at least going in the right direction with loads and yields rising all the time.

13 September, 2005 17:15  
Anonymous NGUZO said...

THUGGERING-indeed sounds like you can coin it the way you want-coz its not your money going down the drain.Why are you guys crying crocodile tears?

13 September, 2005 18:21  
Blogger Emirati said...

Oh you didnt know ? Gulf Air was actually started by a brit during their heydays of imperial rule in the region.

13 September, 2005 18:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

13 September, 2005 19:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

13 September, 2005 19:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

13 September, 2005 19:11  
Blogger Alex said...

Well, at least the UAE will keep its leading place in aviation as the home of Viktor Bout's arms-smuggling freight operations..

13 September, 2005 19:24  
Blogger Emirati said...

Arevoir Gulf Air :) Twas nice knowing you.

But seriously, now Gulf Air is Royally screwed. Ive yet to see what the bahranis and omanis are going to do when etihad begins taking their abu dhabi hub over making them lose a colossal share of their profits as a result.

13 September, 2005 20:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

13 September, 2005 21:49  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Three comments deleted for abusive remarks about the UAE royal families.

Play by the rules here, or don't play at all.

This the UAE here, not freespeakland. I hate censorship as much as anyone, but this blog is not about giving Anonymous people the space to post defamatory, deliberately inflammatory comments. Do that on your sites.

To everyone else: apologies if you read the comments and were offended.

13 September, 2005 23:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14 September, 2005 10:07  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Anonymous - not only are you a sad little troll, but you are a sad illiterate little troll with spelling that makes you look like an asswipe.

FYI it's "loo" not "lew".

I only wish I could have left your comment up so people could laugh at you.

14 September, 2005 12:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh go on then!

14 September, 2005 17:15  
Blogger muscati said...

I think it's a massive opportunity for Bahrain and Oman now that AD is out of GF. Bahrain has the central location that's a perfect hub for any airline operating in the gulf. Oman has a long way to go before it becomes a destination and even though it has an airline of its own it has always considered GF to be its flag carrier. Oman Air operates services to destinations that Oman needs to be in direct contact with, mainly India and Dubai, and then works as a feeder service flying Oman GF passengers to GF's hub.

With AD out of the picture Oman and Bahrain, the two countries without massive wealth in the gulf can form a unified strategy for GF that can serve both countries better.

14 September, 2005 20:27  
Blogger muscati said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14 September, 2005 20:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can Dubai secret diary run a campaign for the schools for the disabled in Abu Dhabi, I hear they have more students by the day!

15 September, 2005 10:09  
Anonymous L said...

GCC co-operation doesn't necessarily mean the members HAVE to tun an airline together. Get a life people...or more appropriately, get smart...

15 September, 2005 13:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog...keep it up.. i came to know about ur blog after reading last Saturday's Tabloid...

15 September, 2005 17:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Abu Dhabi like a fucking shot in the head!

16 September, 2005 16:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are opening new schools for the"mentally challenged" in Abu Dhabi, the current ones are overflowing to the govenrment departments.

16 September, 2005 16:17  

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