The Humble Beginnings of Gulf Airlines
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The Humble Beginnings of Gulf Airlines

DALLAS – The Middle East is today’s most prominent connecting hub, shared by a few carriers from the region. Their start to reaching such an ambitious position dates back to a rather interesting allied beginning.

The present-day airline, Gulf Air (GF), traces its roots back to the original founding entity, the Gulf Aviation Company, headquartered in Bahrain, which was then established by British aviator, Freddy Bosworth. With his single plane fleet, he intended to offer sightseeing flights and also set up commuter flights between Bahrain and Doha, Qatar.

Much-needed funding was secured from a group of local businessmen and there was the start of the then Gulf Aviation Company on March 24, 1950. The first aircraft was an Avro Anson Mark 1 and initially, the majority of the airline’s operations were related to the oil business.  

As time passed by, so did the network – Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain, Kuwait, Muscat, and Sharjah were the next set of destinations in the same decade. The 1960s saw Bandar Abbas, Bombay, Dubai, Karachi, Salalah, and Shiraz were added, as the Fokker F27 turboprops arrived in the fleet it was also at this point did the rich “inflight service” commence laying the foundation for the later years to come that all gulf carriers have mastered.

In the year 1973, British Overseas Airways Corporation’s (BOAC) majority stake in Gulf Aviation was bought out by four Middle East governments, among them being the Kingdom of Bahrain (emirates at the time), the State of Qatar, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the Sultanate of Oman.

The airline was then rebranded as Gulf Air and officially named the flag carrier to all these four countries under the Foundation Treaty of January 1, 1974.

Lockheed L-1011-385-1-15 TriStar 200, Gulf Air. Photo: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons

Gulf Air Fleet History


Gulf Air used the VC-10 aircraft and connected the member states with each other and also flew into other nearby Arab countries, becoming the major airline in the region. In no time, the VC-10 made its flight to London. The aircraft’s aim was to be a temporary fit into the fleet to test long-haul operations.


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Featured image: Gulf Air Vickers VC10 Srs1101 Green. Photo: Doug Green (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

EASA commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer based in Germany.
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