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Wed 14 Sep 2011 10:24 PM

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Bahrain’s Gulf Air reinstates 79 sacked employees

Flagship carrier sacked 192 employees for absence during kingdom’s uprising

Bahrain’s Gulf Air reinstates 79 sacked employees
Gulf Air last month announced a trio of new routes to Rome, Entebbe and South Sudan

Gulf Air reinstated 79
employees who had been dismissed for unauthorized absence from work following
guidance from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and instructions from Labour
Minister Jameel Humaidan, Bahrain’s state-owned airline said in an emailed
statement Wednesday.

This brings the total
number of reinstated staff to 136, the company said. The 79 employees will be
notified from next week and may return to work before the end of the month, the
statement said.

The state-backed carrier
said earlier this month it was prepared to reinstate 122
staff that it dismissed due to absence during anti-government protests and was
in legal talks with employees.

 “There are
still a few legal things going on but, yes, we are evaluating cases and,
depending on the facts and the figures, hiring back. We dismissed people not
because of the political events but because of absent days,” Karim Makhlouf,
chief commercial officer at Gulf Air, told Arabian Business.

Bahrain in March imposed martial law and called in
troops from its Gulf neighbours in a bid to quell weeks of unrest amid mass
pro-reform demonstrations.

The Ministry of Labour said Aug 18 that 2,463
employees had been dismissed since the start of the anti-government uprisings.
More than 1,000 dismissal cases remained pending with no agreement on their
legal status with their employers, the ministry said.

Bahrain’s Labour Law allows a firm to dismiss a
worker if he or she has been absent “without reasonable cause" for more
than 20 days in a year, or more than ten consecutive days.

Gulf Air in August announced a trio of new routes to
Rome, Entebbe and South Sudan and said it would increase its flights to the UAE
in a bid to grow its local business.

Gulf Air plans to increase the number of weekly
flights to Dubai from Bahrain to 14 and add an additional seven flights to Abu
Dhabi.

The airline said it had been forced to push back its
break-even point to mid-2013 from 2012 after political unrest in Bahrain slowed
tourism to a trickle.  

 “February and March we had a passenger drop -
a significant one – of about 15-20 percent, which is normal if you stop flying
to two countries,” said Makhlouf. “We were hit but we compensated as of May,
June and especially July quite impressively.”

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