Dubai: Bahrain’s Gulf Air is seeing some improvement in bookings with air routes re-opening and travel returning in some parts of the world.
“With the vaccination programs rolling out worldwide, we see a little bit of improvement in the number of passengers booking to travel with us,” said Waleed Al Alawi, Gulf Air’s acting CEO, during a Centre for Aviation (CAPA) event on Wednesday.
“We were able to restart some of the destinations (such as) Mykonos, Santorini and Singapore...we're going to go to Malaga (Spain) soon as well,” said Al Alawi. “We see an improvement in the booking as time goes on and passengers gain confidence in the system as well as different airlines including Gulf Air”
Gulf airlines hit
Gulf airlines were down 72 per cent in 2020 in terms of passenger traffic, compared to 2019, and although that number will see some improvement this year, it won’t by much, according to Abdul Teffaha, Secretary General, Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO).
The situation in the Gulf is as “dire” as everywhere else and probably more given the fact that airlines in the region are largely dependent on international markets, said Teffaha, adding that passenger traffic in the first quarter of 2021 was still down 65 per cent, compared to pre-COVID levels.
Cargo plays a part
Qatar Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori said airlines need to be agile to be successful in the current aviation marketplace.
“You do not take a decision now to operate a flight just because there is passenger demand because it's a combination of passenger and cargo revenue,” said Antinori.
Air cargo demand continues to outperform compared to pre-COVID-19 levels from two years ago, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was up 12 per cent compared to April 2019 and 7.8 per cent compared to March 2021. Seasonally adjusted demand is now 5 per cent higher than the pre-crisis August 2018 peak.