Bahrain’s airport has signed four deals for modernisation and maintenance

Bahrain’s airport has signed four deals for modernisation and maintenance

Deals worth $3bn done at air show

February 2014

WITH deals worth more than $3 billion done at an air show it hosted last month, Bahrain is hopeful it will be a more prominent player in the future in the international aviation fairs industry.

The deals were struck during the three-day Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS) with an estimated 56,000 people visiting the trade and public areas and 100 aerospace businesses representing 32 countries taking part.

Dammam-based Al Qahtani Group and Bombardier Aerospace signed a deal, valued at around $1.21 billion, which includes the purchase of 16 CS 300 aircraft with options for 10 more.

Another deal was reached between the Sudan Airport Holding Company and China Harbour Engineering Company for building Phase 2 of Khartoum’s new international airport.

Several business meetings were held by major companies, including French firms Safran and Thales, Italian giant Finmeccanica and US manufacturer Boeing.

Bahrain’s’ national carrier Gulf Air  announced it will undergo a $20 million aircraft refit that aims to significantly improve the flying experience for passengers. The deal was announced on the sidelines of the Bahrain International Airshow.

Companies that figured in contracts included Avianor, Zodiac Aerospace and BE Aerospace.

Starting from June, work will begin on four of Gulf Air’s fleet of six A330s as each in turn is retrofitted with new seats and a revamped interior throughout. The new business class Falcon Gold seats will be 22 inches wide and fully recline to form a 1.9-metre-long bed complete with privacy partition, massage facility and laptop storage compartment.

Economy class customers, meanwhile, will be able to enjoy an 18-inch wide seat featuring a four-inch recline, an adjustable head and foot rest and greater legroom thanks to the seats’ slimmer design.

All seats will feature an integrated audio-video on demand entertainment system with individual touch screens, a USB charging port and a suite of movies, video and audio in several languages at the passengers’ fingertips.

The revamp is aimed at future-proofing the fleet for the next half decade, according to Gulf Air acting chief executive Maher Salman Al Musallam.

Avianor chief executive Earl Diamond, whose company is overseeing the project, estimated that each refit would take between 30 to 40 days. “Gulf Air has asked us, in support of their green policies, to dispose of or repurpose the old seats in an environmentally-friendly way and we are committed to doing that,” he said.

A flypast during the air display at the event

Four deals for the modernisation and maintenance of Bahrain International Airport, totalling $58 million, were also sealed. Two new state-of-the-art safety vehicles will be added to a fleet of six already serving the airport as part of a BD1.3 million ( $3.44 million)  deal. The announcement, which came during a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the Bahrain International Airshow, will see AMA Motors Group provide Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) with two additional aircraft rescue and fire-fighting vehicles on behalf of Austria-based fire services company Rosenbauer.

The “rapid intervention vehicles” will serve as replacements for two existing vehicles which will be used for training purposes, said BAC chief executive Mohammed Yousif Al Binfalah. “We strive to manage BIA as a leading airport and elevating safety measures is among our core objectives,” he said. “This agreement signing is testament to our commitment to equip the airport with cutting-edge safety solutions and implement globally-required measures. We are the first and last impression for many visitors to Bahrain and we work hard to serve the travelling public with air travel that’s both secure and convenient,” he added.



UK-based Martin-Baker, which invented aviation ejector seats which have saved thousands of lives, marked its debut appearance at BIAS.

The company supplies ejection seats for 93 air forces worldwide and is a market leader in safety-related equipment for the industry. Company founder Sir James Martin is credited with pioneering modern rocket-based ejector seats and the business he started is now alerted each time one of their systems is activated. So far they have recorded 7,432 lives saved.

Sir James’ son and company managing director John Martin told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, their presence at the air show was an invaluable opportunity to meet customers from the region.

“The Middle East is becoming a much more important market now that the defence budgets in Europe are being cut,” he said. “Aircraft come with our seats already fitted and we can’t change that so we’re not here to sell them, but it’s important to meet our customers and find out – especially from the servicing point of view – if we can help them and how we can resolve any problems.

UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited BIAS and toured the pavilions.



Al Qahtani Group signed a deal with Bombardier Aerospace whose wings plant in Belfast, Ireland, is pictured

Transportation Minister and Economic Development Board acting chief executive Kamal Ahmed said the show was a major business event for the Middle East and North Africa region. “It’s been a successful three days here at BIAS 2014. We are delighted that regional and international companies are choosing Bahrain to make their announcements and conduct their business. We hope to build on this for future air shows, as the event plays a key role in supporting our attributes as a hub for business in the region,” he commented.

Supreme organising committee chairman Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa said he was amazed how successful the event had been.

Martin said he was pleasantly surprised at how well BIAS was run, describing it as “one of the best in the world.”  “The quality of flying is absolutely superb, in some ways it’s better than (British air show) Farnborough,” he said. “We have had a lot of people come around to the stand as well - far more than we thought. It’s been a very successful show for us so I expect we will be back again in two years’ time.”

Much-appreciated was a nearly five-hour-long flying display including the death-defying Breitling Wingwalkers, the aerobatic Saudi Hawks and the brightly-lit night-time antics of the Huawei Twister Duo.

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