Mid-East airlines discuss operational and technical link-ups in effort to save money

Gulf Air and Kuwait Airways are taking steps to increase co-operation as the two Middle Eastern carriers seek to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

On 10 February, Gulf Air president Ibrahim al-Hamer and Kuwait Airways chairman Ahmed al-Zabin attended a meeting of a joint committee which, says Gulf Air, "reviewed aspects of joint co-operation and co-ordination in flight schedules between the two carriers at some airports in Gulf Co-operation Council [GCC] countries". These include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The airlines will examine co-operation "on a global level in the future".

Technical co-operation is also to be expanded, with Gulf Air offering engineering and aircraft maintenance services to Kuwait Airways in Bahrain, Doha, Karachi, and Singapore. Joint technical support services will be enhanced at other international destinations, including Beirut, Cairo and Damascus. The two Gulf carriers say that co-operation in training is to be stepped up, with Kuwait Airways offering this service for Gulf Air staff. There is some commonality between the fleets, with both airlines operating Airbus A320s and A340s.

Also under discussion are plans for the two airlines to co-operate in aircraft sales and purchasing, opening the possibility of joint talks in future order discussions to obtain better deals on pricing.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are the only two GCC states without an interest in Gulf Air, and it seems unlikely that either would want to join the carrier at this stage. Gulf Air is owned by the governments of Abu Dhabi (in the UAE), Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. Nevertheless, Dubai (in the UAE), Oman and Qatar also operate their own airlines (Emirates, Oman Air and Qatar Airways, respectively), resulting in a surplus of capacity in the region. Aviation officials in the Gulf have long called for greater co-operation and co-ordination among airlines there.

Source: Flight International