MIDDLE EAST: Bahraini officials may be forced to use Gulf Air

Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state carrier, is reportedly in talks with the government to sign a policy ordering all state officials to use the national airline, into law. The bill would mean all state employees travelling or sending air cargo would be legally obliged to fly with Gulf Air as a means of supporting the loss-hit […]


Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state carrier, is reportedly in talks with the government to sign a policy ordering all state officials to use the national airline, into law. The bill would mean all state employees travelling or sending air cargo would be legally obliged to fly with Gulf Air as a means of supporting the loss-hit airline, said chief executive Samer Majali according to a Arabian Business report.

"We’re asking for it to be taken into law, rather than just being a directive," Majali said. The Gulf state’s existing policy encourages government employees to support the flagship carrier, but stops short of legal enforcement.

"If Bahrain wants a carrier the size of Gulf Air to provide access to the globe, then we must have access to this traffic that is coming in; whether that is Bahrain government traffic itself, or guests of Bahrain. They must travel on Gulf Air," said Majali.

The move is similar to requirements in a number of other countries, including the US, which mandate government staff to travel on domestic-domiciled carriers. "We’re not asking for anything different. And it’s happening with all other carriers, with Qatar with Emirates," said Majali, according to the report. The airline posted a loss of US$503 million in 2009, and is anticipating a $300 million full-year loss in 2010.