$1.7 billion lifeline sought for Gulf Air
Manama, March 16, 2012
Bahrain's National Assembly has been urged to sanction a BD664.3 million ($1.762 billion) payment to the national carrier Gulf Air to help ensure its survival, a report said.
The funding should be taken from this year's national budget, Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed were quoted as saying by the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper.
The call was made during a meeting between parliament and Shura Council members to discuss the challenges facing Gulf Air and its technical, administrative and financial status.
The Cabinet ministers said legislators must move fast to ensure the airline survives and is able to overcome the massive losses that have dogged it for several years.
The government is discussing four options, including dissolving the airline, selling it off and launching a new carrier, downsizing or allowing it to continue in its current form.
The ministers said an accumulation of local, regional and international factors had affected the airline's performance and pledged to co-operate with parliament and come up with the best strategy for the company and Bahrain's economy.
They also highlighted the airline's role in connecting Bahrain with the world and employment opportunities it offers the national workforce.
Gulf Air, meanwhile, dismissed reports that its chief executive Samer Majali had resigned. It said in a statement that he was still leading the airline and any comments to the contrary were untrue. - TradeArabia News Service