$2.6bn ‘pumped into Gulf Air in 4 years’
Manama, October 17, 2012
Bahrain has pumped BD1 billion ($2.66 billion) into keeping Gulf Air afloat in the space of four years, according to parliament financial and economic affairs committee vice-chairman Abdulhakeem Al Shemri.
He told MPs during their meeting yesterday that accounted for 25 per cent of the BD4 billion national deficit and claimed the money had been "wasted".
"That BD1 billion was wasted on Gulf Air and, if it was spent on the people, it would have helped a lot," he said.
Meanwhile, MP Othman Al Rayes predicted that another BD185 million bailout of the carrier would also be "squandered" - arguing it should have been distributed among the community.
He suggested this would allow the Electricity and Water Authority to collect the BD70 million it is owed in outstanding payments.
"Everyone knows that the BD185 million will be squandered by Gulf Air, yet MPs want it (the airline) to get it rather than give it to the public to pay their bills," he said.
Our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, reported last week that parliament and the Shura Council were expected to approve the BD185 million Gulf Air aid package, based on government plans to radically downsize the carrier.
The plans include making around half of its staff redundant, halving the size of its fleet to 20 planes and cancelling routes to focus on the Asian sector.
"Parliament was asked to choose between closing down Gulf Air or having it downsized and MPs choose to downsize it and give BD185 million," said Minister of State for Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel. – TradeArabia News Service