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Qatar pulls out of ailing Gulf Air

GERALD BUTT / NICOSIA

The three remaining owners of Gulf Air - Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman - agreed at a crisis board meeting last week to keep the struggling airline going with an $82 million cash injection after fourth equal shareholder Qatar pulled out.

The board is to discuss a further financial contribution in three months. Before the meeting there were suggestions that Oman and Qatar would withdraw. Both states have their own carriers - Oman Air and Qatar Airways.

The latest cash injection will ensure Gulf Air's survival in the short term, but was substantially less than the $272 million hoped for. Gulf Air has $800 million debts, says chairman Shaikh Hamdan al-Nahyan, who says he is confident it can emerge from its current financial crisis. The carrier had serious financial troubles before 11 September, with the owners injecting $160 million in April last year.

Recently appointed chief executive James Hogan, formerly of Ansett Airlines and BMI, aims to complete a restructuring plan by the end of August.

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