Gulf Air witnesses exceptional growth in BD aviation sector

Hussain Ghuloom, Country Manager Bangladesh says
- A Monitor Report01 Oct, 2019 | 1375 Views|-+
Dhaka : Gulf Air has been witnessing an exceptional growth in the aviation sector in Bangladesh. The airline had a 7 per cent growth this year, with the same capacity and frequency.

Hussain Ghuloom, Country Manager Bangladesh, Gulf Air, was talking to The Bangladesh Monitor at his office in the city recently.

Ghuloom estimates that the average growth of the aviation industry in Bangladesh by the end of this year would reach 17 to 21 per cent. "The market itself is having a huge growth this year. A lot of factors are contributing to this unexpected growth. One is visa flexibility."

Many countries have made their visas available for all sorts of travellers. Earlier, Casablanca, Moscow, Dubai and many more destinations were selective with their visas.

They have eased their visa restrictions this year. This, by default, generated a growth in their numbers of inbound travellers and our number of outbound travellers.

However, Ghuloom considers widening of connectivity and launching of flights to new destinations that suit Bangladeshis are the main reasons for the growth.

The disposable income of Bangladeshis is higher than ever. This has resulted in a developed lifestyle. Now people travel more.

The Gulf Air Country Manager said Bangladesh is no longer stuck to exporting labour. It is exporting professional manpower. "I see many going abroad from Bangladesh to work, invest or develop business."

Gulf Air's traffic

The main traffic of Gulf Air to Middle East destinations is manpower and Umrah pilgrims. Next come business and leisure travellers. Then come medical and student passengers, he said.

For leisure, people go to Cairo, Amman, Moscow, Casablanca, Istanbul etc by Gulf Air as the airline has very good connections to those destinations.

More frequencies

He said that Gulf Air is planning to increase frequencies to Dhaka. However, the airline is waiting for the right time. They want to come with a new product.

At present the airline flies to Dhaka five times a week operating Airbus A330s, both of high and low density.

Falcon Gold Cabin

The cabin is designed specifically for Gulf Air as a modern luxury brand offering premium services that enables passengers to access first class services and entertainment at affordable business class prices.

Transit at Bahrain airport

"Our clients and travel agents have no complaints. I, myself, used to work at Bahrain airport as the Duty Manager. The airport authorities are very friendly," he said on transit facilities at Bahrain International Airport.

Airport facilities at Shahjalal

Ghuloom called for improvement in airport facilities at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. When a passenger lands in a country, the first impression of that country is set by its airport. "So we need a bit of improvement in all the airport facilities such as security, transit, immigration, shops etc."

Ground handling

"Compared to the last time I was here in Bangladesh as the Station Manager, I have seen some improvements in ground handling now. Nonetheless, ground handling in Dhaka airport is indeed much better than some other stations. But we are talking about a place with huge movement and potential. Hence, we need to work together and make it a better airport."

New airport

He said, "Gulf Air is going to move to Bahrain's new airport soon." The new airport is going to be huge with all the latest technologies and fully equipped lounges. It is going to be launched in 2020.

New developments

Gulf Air has recently launched operations to new destinations such as Malaga in Spain and Salalah in Oman, both as summer seasonal destinations. The airline also announced its plan to launch Male route in the Maldives by October 2019. Even though they do not have direct flights to US currently, Gulf Air is in codeshare with American Airlines.

Nevertheless, the carrier is considering and studying feasibility to start direct flights to North America by 2023. "We haven't set a definite date for the launch yet. We are waiting to complete the expansion of our Dreamliner fleet first to operate direct services to ultra long-haul destinations."

Cargo operations

Gulf Air is doing very good with their cargo operations as well said Ghuloom. "However, we need more capacity. We are operating wide-body instead of freighter for cargo operations." The aircraft that operates from Dhaka has 15 to 18 tonnes capacity per flight, meaning about 100 tonnes per week. And it always goes full.

He pointed out that the best thing about cargo is that it does not depend on seasons. Cargo operation solely depends on the shipment itself. That is why it always has huge potential.

Coming back to Dhaka

Hussain Ghuloom is no stranger to Bangladesh. He worked as the Station Manager of Gulf Air Bangladesh from 2010-2012.

"To be honest, I came back to Dhaka by choice," said Ghu-loom. "I had my eyes on a few stations. But I went for Dhaka again. Home sweet home!" he added. It is a place he worked before. Hence it is a place he knows, where he has friends.

Hence, in 2016, Ghuloom successfully pulled off a very sudden resumption of Dhaka service which is certainly not easy to do.

Some, outside the aviation industry, did not even realise Gulf Air stopped operations temporarily in 2013 until recently, he said.

Appointing new GSA

Gulf Air is in the final stage of appointing a new GSA. The carrier will appoint by November or sooner if possible. Having a GSA is good for business, believes Ghuloom. It is a win-win for both parties.

"You need someone to look after the airline. I may not be here tomorrow, but I need a continuity of standard services to the airline. This is the law of the land. And in Gulf Air, we follow the law of the land," Ghuloom concluded.

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