By Andy Sambidge
Carrier's chairman hails success of restructuring process which has seen staff numbers fall by 27%
Bahrain's Gulf Air on Tuesday announced a 52 percent reduction in annual losses and a financial performance that surpassed the airline's restructuring target by BD14.5m ($38.4m).
The carrier, which launched the restructuring process in 2012, said losses have fallen by BD100m ($265m) with year-on-year cost savings of 28 percent achieved.
Gulf Air added in a statement that its workforce had been cut by 27 percent as it announced what it called its strongest financial results for eight years.
"The strategic restructuring of the national carrier has put it firmly on-track towards achieving long-term commercial sustainability," the statement said.
Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, chairman of Gulf Air, said: "Gulf Air's financial trajectory took a positive upswing in 2013 following the successful implementation of a balanced restructuring plan that has delivered the airline's strongest financial results in eight years."
Cost-cutting initiatives have included reductions in aircraft leasing fees, retiring of aircraft, the closure of eight loss-making routes, opening of five new destinations, increasing frequencies to eight destinations, a reduction in staff expenses, the renegotiation of over 2,000 contracts with existing suppliers and productivity improvements.
The airlines said throughout 2014 it will continue to manage cost prudently targeting a further cut in losses of approximately 10 percent.
Kamal Bin Ahmed, chairman of Gulf Air's Restructuring Committee added: "Gulf Air now has a clear vision of its future cost structure and is well positioned to not only address the coming challenges but nurture the national carrier's long term future growth.
"Public support for the airline has been increasing, sales are rising, confidence in the airline is building; national pride in the carrier is being restored and there is a new energy and drive internally at Gulf Air."
He said a number of new destinations are being studied across the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, adding that the carrier is also considering a number of potential codeshare opportunities.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.