Gulf Air And Air Europa's New Round Of Cut-back

Thu Nov 01, 2001 1:33 am

Middle East airline Gulf Air is to cut its 32-strong fleet by six aircraft, stop flying to a number of destinations and says its will need to make more cuts in its workforce to survive the dramatic downturn in international travel.

Gulf Air's president and chief executive, Ibrahim Al Hamer, confirmed that the airline has already closed down a number of destinations within its international network including Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in the Middle East. Others are under review.

There will be staff reductions in the airline's operations department due to the downsizing of the fleet and network.

"Our present plan is to reduce our fleet from 32 to 26 aircraft during 2002. The reduced capacity and fleet operations will almost certainly result in the further closures of stations and a reduction of flights throughout our network. All this is designed to maximize yield and maintain load factors and minimize losses," said Mr Al Hamer.

The airline has appointed international consultants Simat Helliesen and Eichner, Inc to make recommendations for restructuring and restoring the company's profitability.

Gulf Air emphasizes that it is determined to provide a range of services will try to keep as much of its route structure in place as possible.

"Our industry has suffered its worst crisis in modern history but we must guard against excessive pessimism," says Mr Al Hamer. "I am confident that we will weather the storm and emerge stronger but changed.
Privately-owned Spanish carrier Air Europa is looking to reduce its workforce by 15 per cent - around 450 jobs - and liquidate its Air Europa Express regional airline unit, the El Pais newspaper reported.

El Pais said that the elimination of Air Europa Express, which operates 17 aircraft in southern Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands, will lead to the suspension of nine national flights.

In addition Air Europa flights between Madrid, Paris and Lisbon have been halted, while another to New York has been transferred to Continental Airlines.

According to the airline's spokesman, Gerardo Arino, one of the main reasons for the company's cutbacks, besides the current international tourism crisis, is a decision by Spain's flag carrier, Iberia, to suspend a wet leasing contract with Air Europa for six aircraft and their crews.

Arino added that if the situation were to improve within a few months the company "would take back all of the employees."

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