Bahrain is pressing for more transparency at Gulf Air as the airline battles to recapitalise and restructure its loss-making operations following the resignation of chief executive André Dosé.
The Bahraini government tasked its parliamentary financial and economic affairs committee with examining the situation at Gulf Air after acquiring full ownership of the struggling airline. Committee vice-chair Latifa Al-Gaoud says the panel intends to scrutinise the carrier, adding: "We're not happy with the lack of detailed information."
Gulf Air has been trying to cope with heavy losses and had just initiated its latest recovery programme when Dosé suddenly resigned in July having only joined four months previously. The airline had been without a permanent chief since the previous September when James Hogan quit to join Abu Dhabi-based rival Etihad Airways.
Dosé's resignation came on top of the Omani Government's decision in May to withdraw from Gulf Air ownership, forcing the carrier to rethink part of its network strategy. Bahrain now owns 100% of the carrier, which at one time was also owned by the Abu Dhabi and Qatari governments.
Gulf Air has named Bjorn Naf as its acting chief. Naf, a former associate of Dosé's at Swiss International Air Lines, was hired by Gulf Air in April and has overseen reorganisation of the airline's network into a wave-based model designed to improve connections at its Bahrain hub.
Al-Gaoud says the committee has also expressed concern over a potential conflict of interest posed by Gulf Air board member Michael Wette, who is a partner in consultancy Roland Berger Middle East, which has been advising the airline. Wette was appointed to Gulf Air's board last December.
"We've been looking for more information on the estimated budget for 2007 and we've also asked about recruitment, particularly expatriate recruitment," Al-Gaoud says.
She adds the committee "doesn't want to intervene in very small details" but says, given Gulf Air's new ownership and its turnaround plans, the need to obtain a certain level of information is "obvious".
Gulf Air responds: "We think we've been more [transparent] than we've ever been with Parliament." But it adds the airline will welcome any suggestions which would improve the company's operations.
Source: Airline Business