Gulf Air confirmed that one of its partners, the UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi, will withdraw its shareholding in the airline.
However, the two remaining partners – Oman and Bahrain – have vowed continued support to the Bahrain-based airline.
Gulf Air’s president and chief executive James Hogan, meanwhile, assured that there will be no change to Gulf Air’s core approach to business or to its on-going business strategy because of Abu Dhabi’s withdrawal. As speculated in newspapers, Abu Dhabi announced that it will withdraw its shareholding in the airline over the next six months. The airline originally had four partners including Qatar which left the company in 2002 when it launched its own airline.
In Muscat, Oman’s transport minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Issa Al-Harthi said Oman will continue to hold a stake in Gulf Air. He said: “After the withdrawal of Abu Dhabi, Gulf Air will be owned, in equal shares, by Oman and Bahrain.”
Al Harthi added that the two countries “are determined to support the activities of the company during the next phase”. He called on the management to work for the ‘stability of the company’s operations and the achievement of its mission’ as a regional carrier.
Hogan welcomed the confirmation of continued support from Bahrain and Oman. “For the wide Gulf Air family – our customers, our staff and our suppliers – the key issue is how we are run; and that will be business as usual. We will continue to build upon our successes, enhancing our brand and our services to reinforce our position as the leading airline in the region, he said. “In the last three years, we have made massive strides in our business performance. We have done that by focusing on our customers, on our staff and on our services. We will continue to do so into the future.”
Hogan added: “I have been delighted to see such strong commitment from the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman and I thank them for their continued support. I look forward to reporting to them on the further successful development of the airline in the future. Having worked well with our many friends and colleagues in Abu Dhabi for many years, we would like to thank them for their support over recent years. We understand that they wish to focus their airline development strategy in other directions and we wish them luck and success. Our focus, however, will remain on our own business and our own key strategic initiatives.”
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