Gulf Air has appointed the former head of Croatia Airlines, Krešimir Kučko, as CEO, effective immediately. He replaces Maher Salman Al Musallam, who retired earlier this year.

The Bahrain-based airline’s chairman, Zayed Bin Rashid Alzayani, said Kučko “brings with him exceptional industry knowledge that I am confident will add considerable value to our business.”

Gulf Air has been loss-making for several years; it has been clawing its way back toward breakeven, although no financial figures for 2016 have been released. The last available figures, for 2015, recorded a net loss of $63.6 million, a considerable improvement on a few years earlier, when losses of several hundred million dollars were recorded.

Kučko served as Croatia Airlines’ president and CEO from 2012 and had been with the central European carrier for 25 years. While in the top position, he was responsible for restructuring the airline, which has recorded a profit for the past four years.

He joins Gulf Air’s recently appointed deputy CEO Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi as the company prepares to receive a new fleet of 39 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft, with deliveries scheduled from early 2018.

As part of that fleet renewal, Gulf Air has signed a lease agreement with lessor Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) for five Boeing 787-9s.

“The incoming aircraft represent an important step in our strategic direction towards furthering Gulf Air’s fleet modernization process, enhancing passenger comfort and broadening our network as we look to strengthen our presence across the globe,” Al Alawi said.

Alan Dron