Gulf Air is to dispose of six aircraft and cease operating certain routes, as the airline attempts to turn round its heavy losses and reduce its debt mountain. The announcement comes only a week after the four Gulf States which own the airline again failed to agree on terms for the injection of 100 Bah dinars ($260 million) of fresh cash. Gulf Air's debts are put at around $2 billion, largely because of its fleet acquisition spree which coincided with the traffic slump from the Gulf War.

The airline will dispose of six of its 17-strong fleet of Boeing 767-300ERs, and it will also close some of its uneconomic routes, including those to New York, Durban/Johanesburg and Geneva. Gulf Air is planning gradually dispose of the six 767s between February and July 1997, reducing its total fleet to 30 aircraft.

The four partners have failed to reach agreement on new funding. At the last meeting on 8 January, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are understood to have offered to invest fresh capital in the carrier, but Qatar, which has so far declined to join in the funding, was not prepared to see a reduction in its stake.

Further discussions are planned for the near future.

Source: Flight International