Gulf Air suspends retirement plan
Manama, May 6, 2013
Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, has agreed to suspend its compulsory retirement scheme due to the success of a major restructuring programme, a report said.
The decision was taken following a meeting between Gulf Air, the Transportation and Labour Ministries and Mumtalakat, the investment arm of Bahrain, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Gulf Air Trade Union (Gatu) officials were yesterday informed of the news after being invited to the Labour Ministry.
"We're told that agreements have been made in the meeting by Labour Ministry assistant under-secretary for labour affairs Dr Mohammed Al Ansari," said Gatu spokesman Mohammad Mahdi.
"The following points have been agreed upon - suspension of the compulsory retirement offer, re-opening of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) and the cases of the 33 fired staff will be reviewed.
"It was explained to the union that the decision came about because the company is moving towards profitability and that there is far less urgency to remove these staff members."
The GDN reported last Thursday that a report by independent aviation sector analysts, the CAPA Centre for Aviation, indicated the airline will emerge as a much leaner and more commercially viable carrier, although losses are expected to continue until the end of the year.
Gulf Air launched its three-year strategy to cut jobs, simplify its fleet and change its destination network in January.
It hopes to achieve cost savings of 24 per cent by the end of the year and reduce the airline's losses from BD95 million ($251.8 million) to BD58 million by 2017.
Around 3,800 people were employed by Gulf Air, which is reportedly seeking to shed up to 1,066 jobs - as part of the massive downsizing operation - of which 565 are based abroad.
The airline earlier said 15pc of its workforce had been reduced at the end of February as a result of its voluntary retirement scheme.
"Gulf Air representatives were not present at yesterday's meeting and therefore were not able to comment on what was discussed," said Gulf Air in a statement to the GDN.
"The airline remains committed to implementing the restructuring strategy which will strengthen its core services through optimising its network, re-engineering its internal processes and aligning its workforce to meet its revised network and fleet requirement.
"Gulf Air will continue to implement this process in a fair and transparent manner and in accordance with its legal obligation.
"Gulf Air will continue to be a key employer committed to developing a national workforce of aviation professionals," it said. – TradeArabia News Service