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Mon 19 Nov 2012 03:22 PM

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Bahrain Air set for gov’t showdown talks

Carrier has been forced to scale back or cancel a number of services amid debt woe

Bahrain Air set for gov’t showdown talks
Bahrain Air is set to hold showdown talks with government officials.

Bahrain Air is set to hold showdown talks with government officials
after the carrier was forced to scale back on a number of its routes, it was

Over the last few weeks, the Gulf airline has cancelled
services to Dammam and Dhaka, while flights to Amman, Beirut, Doha, Dubai,
Jeddah, Kathmandu, Khartoum, Kuwait and Thiruvananthaparum have all been pared.

The airline did not provide a reason for the reduction in
services, but CEO Richard Nuttall told Gulf
Daily News
that Bahrain Air executives would be meeting with Civil Aviation
Affairs officials in an attempt to resolve the matter.

"We have issues with [Civil Aviation Affairs] -
something that I cannot yet talk about - but we hope to resolve them
soon," Nuttall told the newspaper.

"We are meeting with the authorities later this week to
see what can be done. Hopefully, our operations will be on track soon."

He added that the airline could not resume the impacted
services until it had the “required permissions” from the body.

Nuttall also dismissed unionist claims that 300 Bahrain Air
employees were set to lose their jobs. "If
300 jobs are lost, it means the airline has closed down. That is not the
case," he said.

In August, the Gulf kingdom’s second carrier after Gulf Air, was ordered
to pay off its debts or risk suspension of its operations, its chairman said.

The Manama-based airline had failed to pay arrears owed to
the Civil Aviation Affairs and other government parties, the Bahrain News
Agency reported at the time.

“The airline company has also failed to pay the passenger
departure taxes it had levied for a long time on behalf of the government”, the
Transport Ministry had said.

In a statement carried by Arabic daily Akhbar Al Khaleej, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, chairman
of Bahrain Air, said the airline has come under increasing pressure to pay off
debts accrued in the wake of last year’s political unrest.

The airline has also previously said that it would “seriously”
consider a merger with Gulf Air in its attempt to draw a line under its
financial difficulties.

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