Gulf Air (GF, Bahrain Int'l) is aiming to start flights to North America from 2020 as part of its five-year growth strategy. Among the early destinations touted is Boston.

Unveiled in Manama on Sunday, February 26, the Bahraini carrier's CEO Kresimir Kucko said the plan was anchored on several key principles namely Safety, Network Growth, Innovation, Human Resources, Customer Focus, Revenue Vs Cost, and Gulf Air's role as a contributor and key driver of the local economy.

Over the coming months and years, Gulf Air will renew and expand its fleet with the addition of thirty-nine new Airbus and Boeing aircraft including twelve A320neo, seventeen A321neo (of which nine are Long Range variants), and ten B787-9s. This year alone, seven B787-9s are due with the first to arrive in April. Thereafter, in 2019, two more B787s will arrive followed by three more in 2020. A further six will be delivered between 2023-24. Collectively they will replace the carrier's existing fleet of six A330-200s.

In terms of the A320neo Family aircraft, two A320neo are due this year followed by four A320neo in 2019, four A321neo in 2020, three A320neo and three A321neo in 2021, three A320neo and five A321neo in 2022, and five A321neo in 2023. No mention was made on the status of the carrier's order with Bombardier Aerospace (BBA, Montréal Trudeau) for ten A220-100s, now presumably indefinitely deferred or dropped outright.

The added capacity will be used to underscore a major network expansion. This year alone, Gulf Air will add eight new destinations to its network including Bangalore Int'l and Kozhikode in India, Abha and Tabuk in Saudi Arabia, Alexandria Borg el Arab and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, Baku in Azerbaijan, and Casablanca Int'l in Morocco.

Gulf Air also plans to tweak its frequencies on key routes this year in order to enhance its Bahrain Int'l hub operations. As such, Kucko said it will increase its flights during the peak summer period by 200 more weekly flights compared to 2017.

In terms of longterm development, Gulf Air planned strategic growth for the years 2019-2023 will see it strengthening its regional base and then supplementing that with an expanded network that will reach various points across the globe including Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and, ultimately, North America.

By 2023, Gulf Air’s network reach will cover at least 60 destinations from the current 42.