Bahrain airline starts Geneva-Manama route

* Flights three times a week

* Financial sector, tourists targeted

GENEVA, March 29 (Reuters) – Bahrain national airline Gulf
Air [GULF.UL] on Tuesday opened a new service between Geneva and
Manama, saying the move was aimed at helping boost the island
kingdom’s links to key financial markets.

The service, operating three times a week, will be flown by
Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) 737-700 extended-range aircraft.

The launch of the new route comes at a difficult time for
the aviation industry. Protests and government crackdowns in the
Middle East, including Bahrain, and north Africa stifled air
passenger traffic in February, International Air Transport
Association figures released on Tuesday showed. [ID:nLDE72S0NA]

“The political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa
during February is estimated to have cut international traffic
by about 1 percent,” IATA said.

“Demand growth across the region is taking a step back,”
IATA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement.

IATA represents 240 airlines operating 94 percent of all
international traffic.

Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Samer Majali told guests at
a ceremony to launch the new route it was hoped to attract
business and leisure travellers from the Middle East and from
Switzerland.
(Reporting by Robert Evans; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Bahrain airline starts Geneva-Manama route