Gulf Air plans to improve services in the Mideast

MANAMA GULF AIR, which has been recently focusing on its European sector, sprucing up the service, frequency and the cuisine, will now begin on working and enhancing its services in the Middle East region and then its Asian routes.

By From Utpal Bhattacharya

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Published: Thu 27 Feb 2003, 3:09 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 8:24 PM

James Hogan, president and chief executive of the airline, said that one of the key areas of focus of the airline, apart from service enhancement, was training of the staff itself. He said that since the time he took over at the helm of the airline in the middle of last year, he has set certain priorities and is taking them one after the other.

He said that Gulf Air has one of the best in-house training facilities in the region and he himself has taken a keen interest in getting the best out of his staff and among instances he showed was the near perfect score in the airline's call centre and the electronic boards at the entrance of the headquarter building, which constantly blipped the real time load factor for the day and the efficiency of the airline in terms of flying on time.

Hogan said that among the big positives that he inherited as he took over as the head of the airline was Gulf Air's "very strong branding, a good network and good people". He emphasised that this was the best that could be there with an airline, which was looking at expanding and restructuring.

"There is no question of shrinking jobs and cutting costs by losing jobs in our company. We are not doing that when we are talking of cutting cost and rationalisation. For instance we will be moving our call centre to Muscat and those, who would not want to move out of Bahrain will be redeployed somewhere else within the company. There will be no job losses," he pointed out.

In fact, Hogan has for the first time brought in incentives for enterprising employees in the company. He also has, in February this year, introduced the concept of "cost of living index", something that is unheard of among the Gulf employers, who continue to pay the same salaries year after year. The president argues: "We have cost of living index in Europe and even in the subcontinent and so why not here?"

The employees have got a three per cent increase in their pay cheques since February as part of this cost of living index rise. And the results have been enormous as employees have begun giving more than their 100 per cent to achieve what their leader wants from them and the company.

Talking about his plans for the Middle East, Hogan says that the region would need a regional jet solution as a lot of travel take place within the region. He said Gulf Air is in talk with Embraer and Bombardier for smaller jets, which will fly short hauls in the region. But in the very short run, after Europe, certain destinations in the Middle East will also see chef on board and this luxury will be introduced in the region this year. Chef on board will be introduced on the Asian routes also, he added.

Gulf Air, which flies to 43 cities in 32 countries, is now involved in further evolving its cultural strengths to emerge as the "fashion brand of the airline industry". It has appointed Landor Associates to renew and strengthen the airline's brand power as part of the company's three-year strategic recovery plan.

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