Bahrain’s Gulf Air has said it plans to launch routes to North American cities in 2023 under a gradual strategy to increase its footprint.
The airline said the expansion was discussed in a meeting between its CEO Waleed Abdul Hamid Al Alawi, deputy CEO Krishmir Kuchko and US ambassador to the country Justin Sebelel on Monday, according to Bahrain News Agency.
It currently codeshares for services from London, Paris and Frankfurt to New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Durham with American Airlines and vice versa for trips from the European cities to Bahrain.
The announcement follows agreements by the Qatari and UAE governments in recent months to resolve claims that they provide unfair subsidies to state carriers Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.
US airlines American, United and Delta said the three had an unfair competitive advantage due to state support and they could not compete with them on the more than a dozen routes they operate between the Gulf region and American cities.
In contrast, Gulf Air has avoided this controversy through a focus on destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Bahrain’s state carrier has also suffered from losses in recent years, with its deputy CEO stating in April that it wanted to focus on carrying tourists to Bahrain.
Gulf Air will add five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners of 10 on order to its fleet this year and plans to fly the aircraft to London Heathrow, Casablanca and Bangkok.
It is also expecting to receive two Airbus A320neos.
The airline is launching eight new destinations in 2018, adding to its network of 49 cities in 26 countries, and aims to fly to 60 destinations by 2023.