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Gulf Air lays off hundreds, sales drop on unrest
Says 200 employees were laid off, 100 appealing decision; Says bookings down 25 percent in 2011
May 30, 2011 3:27 by p.deleon
Gulf Air Bahrain’s loss-making national carrier, said it had laid off 200 employees and bookings were down a quarter following political and social unrest in Bahrain and the region.
“Due to the situation in the region as a whole as well as the Kingdom of Bahrain, Gulf Air witnessed a 25 percent drop in bookings in the first five months of 2011,” it said on Monday.
The company said 200 employees were laid off, adding 100 of the laid-off employees have appealed the decision at an internal appeals committee and 11 were reinstated.
Bahrain saw the worst sectarian clashes between its Shi’ite majority population and the Sunni-ruled security forces since the 1990s after Shi’ite protesters, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets in February.
In a subsequent crackdown by the government hundreds of mostly Shi’ite Muslim workers were fired.
Gulf Air has struggled to find a niche after previous owners Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar gave up their stakes partly to establish their own carriers.
It now focuses on regional routes in the Middle East to compete with airlines like Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline that serve global traffic linking Asia and Europe. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Dan Lalor)