Gulf Air has embarked on a wide-ranging restructuring including a recapitalisation, reduction of the fleet and a management overhaul as questions emerge over the airline's future ownership.
New chief executive Andre Dose, who took over on 1 April, has stamped his authority by dismissing several senior executives, including his immediate predecessor, and simplifying its organisation.
"Gulf Air is heavily losing money every day. This has to stop," says Dose. Four divisions - operations, network, finance and sales - will replace the present 13. Dose says "tough" measures and a "cultural shift" are needed to restore profitability the airline employs over 5,000 staff, but it is unclear whether the revamp will involve job losses.
Gulf Air is to withdraw its Boeing 767-300ERs and move to an all-Airbus operation
Gulf Air is to reduce its fleet from 34 to 28 aircraft, which will include moving to an all-Airbus operation by withdrawing its Boeing 767-300ERs.
Gulf Air is equally owned by the Bahraini and Omani governments and the shareholders have agreed to back the recapitalisation. Bahrain is contemplating raising its stake to draw the airline closer to the kingdom, as Oman is reinforcing its own national carrier.
"The shareholders have guaranteed a capital injection to cover past costs, fund the restructuring process and invest in future operational improvements," says Dose. "But they expect us to make sure this money is wisely spent."
Oman's government has recapitalised Oman Air, taking its share from 34% to more than 80%, in order to support the airline's bid to restart long-haul operations. Five Airbus A330s are being acquired from 2009 to support this plan.