By Shane McGinley
Bahrain carrier sacks 200 staff, says political unrest has seen bookings tumble 25% to May
Gulf Air, the loss-making national carrier of Bahrain, has
sacked 200 staff amid a 25 percent plunge in bookings, the airline confirmed in
a statement Monday.
The employees were fired for ‘unjustified absenteeism’,
defined as taking more than 10 days off work without a value reason. Half
appealed the decision internally and 11 were reinstated.
“All dismissals followed the individual review of each case
by established internal committees,” the airline said in a statement.
The 200 employees laid off represent around five percent of
the 3,884 staff employed at the flag carrier at the end of April 2011.
The airline has been badly hit by the unrest that has
dominated the island state since February, leaving at least 29 people dead following
bloody clashes between security forces and protesters.
Bahrain imposed martial law in March, calling in troops from
neighbouring Gulf countries to quash the protests.
The carrier was forced to suspend flights to Iran, Iraq and
Lebanon and issue refunds when the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix was
“Due to the situation in the region as a whole as well as
the Kingdom of Bahrain, Gulf Air witnessed a 25 percent drop in bookings in the
first five months of 2011,” the airline said.
“Since May 1 we have started to see an upturn in
reservations and are optimistic that this will continue with summer bookings.’
The carrier is assessing how the political unrest has
impacted its balance sheet and will submit a report on the losses to the
government, chief executive Samer Majali told reporters this week.
Gulf Air has struggled to find a niche after previous owners
Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar gave up their stakes partly to establish their own
It now focuses on regional routes in the Middle East to
compete with airlines like Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline that serve global
traffic linking Asia and Europe.
Last week, Bahrain's labour fund Tamkeen announced a BD10m
($26.5m) fund to offer capital to small and medium-sized businesses that have
been hit by the recent political unrest.
â€˜unjustified absenteeismâ€™- I wonder if the sackings have anything to do with people asking for their freedom...