Manama: Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, has announced major network expansion plans and the boosting of its fleet strength as part of its new corporate strategy for 2018 and beyond.

Eight new destinations will be added to the airline’s network this year, coinciding with its new aircraft deliveries, the carrier said in a statement.

In India, its current operations to Delhi, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Trivandrum and Hyderabad will be enhanced by flights to Bengaluru and Calicut.

In Saudi Arabia, Gulf Air will launch flights to Abha and Tubuk that will complement its current service to Dammam, Riyadh, Madinah, Jeddah and Qassim.

In Egypt, Gulf Air’s Cairo operations will be supplemented by direct flights to Alexandria and flights to Sharm Al Shaikh.

The airline will also launch operations to Baku in Azerbaijan and to Casablanca in Morocco.

This year will see Gulf Air increasing its flights during the peak summer period by adding 200 more weekly flights compared to 2017.

The carrier said that seven new aircraft — five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and two Airbus A320neo aircraft — would enter service before the end of the year as the company inducts 39 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft into its fleet.

“Our national carrier is an integral part of Bahrain’s economy and a critical component of its aviation infrastructure,” Zayed Bin Rashid Al Zayani, Chairman of Gulf Air’s Board of Directors, said on Sunday evening at a gala dinner to announce the new strategy and introduced Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Krešimir Kučko.

“Gulf Air’s new corporate strategy includes expansion plans and is geared towards elevating the passenger experience, promoting Bahrain’s tourism economy and bolstering the Kingdom’s aviation, transport, tourism and business infrastructures and the aviation industry as a whole. Gulf Air’s future plans bode well for Bahrain’s aviation, transport and tourism infrastructure and the Kingdom as a whole.”

Kučko unveiled the airline’s new corporate strategy for 2018 and beyond, outlining its key pillars of safety, network growth, innovation, human resources, customer focus, revenue versus cost and the national carrier’s role as a contributor and key driver of the local economy.

“People look at Gulf Air today and see much more than an airline,” he said. “They see a national carrier, a local employer, a tourism driver and a link to our business partners and political allies across the globe. They see an airline that, like all airlines around the world, reflects and supports its country and economy.”

The airline’s planned strategic growth in the years 2019-2023 will see it strengthening its regional base and an expanded network that will reach various points across the globe, he added.

“This includes the Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and ultimately, North America. By 2023 Gulf Air’s reach will have expanded to over 60 destinations. Gulf Air will challenge the traditional definition of travel, broadening its scope and making it more convenient and appealing for every traveller.”