Gulf Air first half results buoyed by premium demand

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Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air has posted a 6% increase in revenue for the first half of the year alongside a 13% increase in passenger numbers.

Demand for its Falcon Gold premium cabin was up by 35% year-on-year for the six months to 30 June 2012, the airline says in a statement, compared with 12% growth in economy class.

Passenger load factor also rose by 5 percentage points to 77%, while on-time punctuality grew by 1 percentage point to 79%.

Gulf Air did not provide a figure for its first half net result, though chief executive Samer Majali has previously said full year losses for 2011 were in the region of 190 million dinar ($504 million).

Last year's poor result was largely attributed to low demand during the Arab Spring uprisings, which also saw Gulf Air suspend services to Iran and Iraq.

The national carrier has since gained approval from Bahrain's government to resume flying to both countries this autumn. It is also rolling out a range of cost-cutting measures, which it says reduced expenditure by 6.8 million dinar between January and May.

"We are pushing forward with our cost efficiency and sales efficiency measures in 2012 and are targeting a further 15% reduction in its cost base for the full year," says Majali.

Gulf Air has orders for 20 Airbus A330s and 16 Boeing 787s, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database, having cut its Dreamliner order from 24.

However, Majali told Flightglobal in April that he only sees a need for "single digit widebodies," suggesting that further cancellations are likely.