Gulf Air, Emirates axe flights as demand falls

Emirates ...bracing for troubled times ahead.

Two major regional airlines have announced sharp cuts in their flight schedules following last month's terror attacks in the US.

The decision by Gulf Air and UAE based Emirates to scale down their operations follows similar moves by other carriers hit hard by the slump in travel after the September 11 attacks.

The global airline industry has suffered massive losses since September 11 and most carriers have slashed schedules and shed thousands of jobs as tourists and businessmen avoid travelling.

Emirates said it was reducing flights to 11 destinations in the Gulf, Asia and Europe until October 10.

A spokeswoman said the services were being trimmed for the period and the situation will remain under review. But the airline has no plans for job cuts.

The destinations affected by the cancellations are Bahrain, Muscat, Doha and Dammam in the Gulf; Karachi, Hyderabad and Hong Kong in Asia; and London Heathrow, Birmingham, Duesseldorf and Zurich in Europe.

Gulf Air said it had slashed its flights by 15 per cent worldwide and was shedding staff through voluntary early retirement and an alternative "voluntary severance package".

The airline said more than 70 senior staff had agreed to a five per cent voluntary pay cut in the face of the "unprecedented difficulties".

The airline suspended flights indefinitely to Peshawar, Pakistan, on September 19, as a "commercial and precautionary measure".

The airline is still aiming to get back into profit by 2003 and is re-examining its short and long-term strategic planning, it said.