Gulf Air (GF, Bahrain International) has applied for a US Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP) and exemption to launch direct services between Bahrain International and undisclosed points in the United States.

The Bahraini flag carrier said in its US Department of Transportation (DOT) application that it planned to launch flights as soon as it received the clearance. It acknowledged that Bahrain has not yet completed its certification under the FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme. Although the assessment is underway, Gulf Air said that in case it obtains the FACP before the audit is finalised, it would seek to serve the US via a wet lease or code-share. Such agreements do not require FAA Category 1 assessment.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that Gulf Air's long-haul fleet currently comprises seven B787-9s with a further five on order. However, the jets are not equipped with a crew rest and are thus unsuitable for ultra-long-haul transatlantic services.

Gulf Air was initially planning to launch services to the US in 2021, contingent on the necessary fleet developments, but later suspended these plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, it explored using Larnaca as a fifth-freedom hub for its US flights. Last month, Cyprus and Bahrain signed a revised air services agreement which now grants Bahrain's airlines 5th freedom rights to all EU member states via any Cypriot airport.

In a November 2021 interview, Chief Executive Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi told ch-aviation that the airline was still evaluating US routes but was noncommittal on a timeline.