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Manama -- Gulf Air, Bahrain's main airline, will launch flights to Kabul on June 15, the company said. The announcement follows the airline's recent launch of services to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Isfahan in Iran, Basra in Iraq, Milan in Italy and Geneva in Switzerland, taking the number of new destinations opened in 2011 to six.

Gulf Air will be the first 'full service' scheduled commercial carrier in the Middle East to connect Afghanistan, under a new strategy to reinforce its leadership as the carrier with the largest network in the region, a statement from the company said.

"The launching of our service to Kabul follows extensive safety and security audits, and further demonstrates our strategy to connect Bahrain with niche and under-served markets within the region that have high growth potential," Samer Majali, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer, said.

"Afghanistan has seen some remarkable growth recently and the government is committed to facilitating and promoting the development of a dynamic, competitive private sector by closely working in partnership with local businesses to revitalise and expand the economy." For Majali, connecting Kabul with Bahrain opens a huge commercial opportunity for Afghanistan's well-known traditional industries and the industrial sectors as well as chances for Bahrain's private sector businesses in Afghanistan.

"In addition, there are many international corporations and organisations working on several multi-million development projects in Afghanistan and there is a vast Afghan community living and working in the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia.

"Gulf Air will be the only efull service' commercial airline to provide seamless and convenient flight connections to these passenger segments between Kabul and the entire GCC network, the Levant region, Europe, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh," he said.

Gulf Air will be operating initially an Airbus A320 aircraft offering 16 Falcon Gold seats and 120 Economy class seats between Bahrain and Kabul.

Bahrain's national airline has suspended flights to Lebanon after comments by Hezbollah's leader criticising the response to a Shiite uprising in the island kingdom.

Bahrain's government has criticised recent comments by Hassan Nasrallah singling out the monarchy for bringing in troops from neighbouring Gulf countries to help face down the protests.

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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Apr 3, 2011

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