Gulf Air restructuring targets 24% cost savings by year-end

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Gulf Air has announced the framework of its latest restructuring plan, which will target cost savings of 24% within 12 months by consolidating the route network, rationalising the workforce and maintaining a fuel-efficient fleet.

Though no details about aircraft orders or staff layoffs are provided, the new strategy has the backing of Bahraini deputy prime minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who was appointed to head up the board last November.

"Gulf Air is a key national infrastructure asset and provides business links which are important for wider economic development," Al Khalifa says in a statement.

"In order to best position the airline for future growth and ensure it remains integral to the kingdom's evolving business requirements, the airline's management...are committed to implementing a restructuring strategy to put Gulf Air on a path towards sustainability."

The realigned route network will focus on strengthening the carrier's core Middle Eastern and North African operations, while closing unprofitable routes elsewhere.

Earlier this month, Gulf Air announced that it will stop flying to Colombo, Dhaka and Kathmandu. That move followed last year's decision to ground a raft of routes, including the European destinations of Athens, Milan, Rome, Copenhagen and Barcelona.

Addressing its fleet plans, Gulf Air says the restructuring programme will ensure it maintains "one of the youngest fleets in the region". The airline recently scaled back its aircraft orders, focussing on up to 16 Airbus A320neos and 16 Boeing 787s.

Al Khalifa will continue holding board meetings every month, thereby ensuring that the parliament - elements of which have previously called for the closure of the airline - will "oversee the execution of the restructuring plan across all areas of the organisation".

Gulf Air says the plan will deliver cost savings of 24% by the end of 2013, with revenue per available seat kilometre expected to increase by 9%.