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Gulf Air resumes flights to Sri Lanka

7 October 2010 04:53 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali at the media briefing yesterday along with General Sales Agents John Keells Group President Transportation Romesh David. Pic by Daminda Harsha Perera

Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the carrier with the largest Middle East international network, yesterday touched down once again at Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International Airport after a lapse of five years, marking a historic re-entry into Sri Lankan skies with five frequencies weekly. 

The inaugural  flight arrived at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday with a water canon salute while Gulf Air Chief Executive, VIPs and passengers were given a traditional Sri Lankan welcome  by the Deputy Director of the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority Rayhan Wanniappa, Vice Chairman of Airport and Aviation in Sri Lanka Kamal Ratwatte, President of the Transportation Sector  John Keells Holdings PLC Romesh David and  senior officials from Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Authority, airport officials and the media.
Addressing a media conference in Colombo Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali said the prime objective of Gulf Air re-launching in Sri Lanka is for added connectivity from Colombo to Bahrain and thereby to other Middle Eastern destinations. He commented that:  "Given that Gulf Air has the largest network in the Middle East with non-stop flights providing seamless onward connections to a host of other international destinations, we believe it is the apt time for us to have a dynamic presence here in Sri Lanka.  We are currently one of the most powerful brands and a name to reckon within the global industry and our network stretches from Europe to Asia, connecting 44 cities in 29 countries with a fleet of 36 aircraft." Gulf Air also reaffirmed its partnership with Mack Air (Pvt) Limited, the airline division of John Keells Holdings PLC to provide General Sales Agency Services. President of the Transportation Sector of John Keells Holdings PLC Romesh David provided a background to the historic facet of the re-entry of the airline, touching back to a history that Mack Air had way back in 1981, when Gulf Air operated twice weekly. 

"Given the extensive network even at that time, we saw immense potential to strengthen Gulf Air's presence, which resulted in flights subsequently touching down five times weekly," he recalled.  "Mack Air was extremely successful in selling Gulf Air flights which finally led to the airline operating daily into Colombo.  However, after 25 years in operation, the airline withdrew from this market although, I am now extremely proud to be here at a most exciting and memorable moment when we rekindle this partnership that goes back almost thirty years." 

Majali, who was supported by Gulf Air's Chief Service Officer Marcus Bernhardt and Director Corporate Affairs Mohammed Amin Hulaiwah on his visit to Sri Lanka, also explained that with Sri Lanka now having a very pragmatic outlook of creating an aviation hub for South Asia, it makes good business sense for Gulf Air to be a part of this vision, while adding value to the large numbers of Sri Lankan expatriates living and working in the Middle East. 

While Area Commercial Manager India Sub Continent Asia Pacific Manuel Starkle and Commercial Manager for India and Sri Lanka Gulf Air Ranju Selvadurai was also in attendance, Senior Vice President and Head of Airline and Travels of John Keells Holdings PLC Anil Bandara in his welcome address stated that Mack Air was extremely proud to be the General Sales Agent for Gulf Air.  "This helps leverage the synergies we both have," he said.  "On the one side, Gulf Air has as its focus  a targeted more focused international network, a superior more consistent product and a modern more efficient fleet that will optimize value.  On the other side, Mack Air, which was the first GSA in Sri Lanka to be certified to ISO 9001 standards and comes under the transportation sector of the blue chip conglomerate of John Keells, brings to the table three decades of experience, state of the art infrastructure and superior marketing and administrative support which is evidenced by the large portfolio of world renowned names in aviation including American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, GMG Airlines and Jet Airways being within our purview."  He added that with the corporate stewardship and backing of 130 years from its parent company John Keells, Mack Air is ably supported by a regional network of the transportation sector's own offices covering key cities and gateways within India and the Maldives.

Gulf Air's global presence is further augmented with its official airline and sponsor status of the 2010 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and the London based football club Queen's Park Rangers.
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