Change is afoot at Gulf Air, with a new Chief Executive Officer set to lead the airline in 2023 and new service to the USA now closer to reality.
Gulf Air Appoints Jeffrey Goh As CEO
Goh has been a senior executive at Star Alliance for over a decade, serving as General Counsel and Vice President of Corporate Services and later Chief Operation Officer before taking over as CEO in 2017 and leading the company’s move from Frankfurt to Singapore.
Gulf Air was once the leading carrier in the Middle East before being rapidly eclipsed over the last two decades by Emirates and Qatar Airways. Over the last several years, the carrier has slowly rebuilt, primarily by investing in an updated fleet including Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A321LR jets.
Speaking of his new position, Goh said:
“I am extremely honored to have the confidence of the board of Gulf Air Group Holding and looking forward to the opportunity of leading the group and working with the board and all employees of the group to deliver some very exciting objectives.
“Gulf Air has a very rich and long history of over 70 years, and I am privileged to be part of a team that will take the group to new heights, particularly as we emerge from the Covid crisis.”
Gulf Air chairman, Zayed Alzayani added:
“We are very excited about this new chapter in our Aviation History and as Bahrain embarks on taking its aviation experience and heritage globally, we look forward to have Mr. Goh as an important and vital member of our team. We wish him success in his new mission and look forward to welcoming him and working with him.”
Goh will assume his new position on January 1, 2023.
Gulf Air Considers USA Service
As Gulf Air expands, it is eyeing a return to the United States, a nation it has not served in nearly three decades. The carrier recently requested a foreign air carrier permit with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), the first step toward establishing an air link between the two countries. While Gulf Air flew Fifth Freedom routes in the past via Geneva or Larnaca (more so due to aircraft restraints), this time it “anticipates launching non-stop service from Bahrain to the United States upon receipt of all required government approvals.”
One Mile At A Time notes that the carrier has posted a job posting for a manager at New York JFK. Houston, the de facto energy capital of the USA, is also under consideration according to comments from Bahrain’s oil minister.
With limited demand for travel between the Bahrain and USA, this seems to be more a prestige route than a potential profit center. Gulf Air’s network cannot compete (nor tries to) with the likes of Emirates, Qatar, or even Etihad, but it hopes to offer a “boutique” product with warm Arab hospitality onboard that will distinguish it from others (if my recent flight was any indication, the carrier has some work to do). That strikes me as wishful thinking, though I would love to see Gulf Air serve the USA.
Changes are coming to Gulf Air. The carrier has appointed a new CEO with decades of industry experience and plans service to the USA. Can Gulf Air regain some of its former glory as the premier carrier of the Middle East? 2023 will be an important year in pursuing that goal.