Gulf Air has finally unveiled its new Falcon Gold lounge at Heathrow T4, nearly three years after the facility was first announced.
The carrier contracted design consultants James Park Associates (JPA) to create the lounge back in 2008 (see online news April 11, 2008), but management changes and restructuring at the airline delayed the opening of the facility until now.
The Falcon Gold lounge is located next to gate 6 at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 (from where the majority of Gulf Air’s twice-daily flights depart), below the Malaysia Airlines lounge and with great views across the runway to Terminal 5 and the Heathrow East development (the forthcoming replacement for Terminal 2).
Cream, blue and gold are the main colour schemes, following the carrier’s corporate identity and livery, and the 600sqm lounge features lounge and dining areas, an island bar with Illy Café counter, a business centre, self-service buffet area, showers and a locker storage area.
The design concept at Heathrow will be extended to the carrier’s lounges at its Bahrain base, with these facilities set to be revamped within the next six months, followed by Gulf Air’s lounge in Dubai.
At this stage the Heathrow lounge is only being used by Gulf Air, although CEO Samer Majali said that the airline is in discussions to share the lounge with other carriers “at suitable times of the day”. Gulf Air currently serves London twice-daily, with flights departing at 0930 and 2155.
On the subject of why the lounge had taken until now to come to fruition, Majali said that he had wanted to wait “until our strategy was clear”, and added that London was the carrier’s “most important long-haul route”.
Gulf Air has gone ahead with the launch of the new lounge despite the unrest in Bahrain, but Majali said that there was a consensus in the country that “all parties want a united Bahrain”. He also said that he was hopeful the cancelled Bahrain Grand Prix (sponsored by Gulf Air) could still be rescheduled.
The carrier will launch new routes to Milan on March 27 and Geneva on March 29 (see online news January 11), and has been, as Majali put it, the “trailblazers” in Iraq, with four routes to Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil and most recently Basra.
Last year Gulf Air also announced its intentions to merge its business and first class cabins into a new Falcon Gold hybrid product offering a fully-flat bed on routes over 4.5 hours (see online news February 19, 2010).
However Majali said that due to the time taken in getting the seat certified the carrier is planning to install an interim “off the shelf” business class product on its A330 aircraft (which serve the London route), with a decision set to be announced soon.
For more information visit gulfair.com.
Report by Mark Caswell