Two Bahraini government ministers have called on the kingdom's government to inject BHD664 million dinar (USD$1.76 billion) into struggling national carrier Gulf Air to help it overcome challenges.
In a meeting, finance minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa and transport minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed said the government should support Gulf Air and approve a bill for the 2012 fiscal budget year to boost the airline's capital.
"Leaving the company Gulf Air without radical and critical action and positive support would be a direct threat to its ability to survive and overcome the enormous challenges it faces at present," the ministers were quoted as saying.
The ministers also said Gulf Air was a backbone of the national economy through its role in linking Bahrain to other countries and providing jobs.
Gulf Air has been hit by falling passenger numbers as anti-government protests continue in the tiny island kingdom. It said in January it would downsize operations and seek cash from government funds to sustain operations.
The airline also said previously it could tap Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, which is a stakeholder.
In January, a government delegation briefed parliament and called for a restructuring of the company for "effective operational requirements".
Last month, Gulf Air secured an USD$80 million loan from a unit of Dubai lender Mashreq Bank to help meet working capital requirements.
Its plight is in contrast to Middle East competitors such as Etihad, Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates which have been expanding their networks.
Bahrain, a regional offshore banking hub, has been hit by more than a year of unrest after majority Shi'ite Muslims, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, launched a pro-democracy movement which was put down by the government with the help of forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Gravity always wins!