Bahrain airlines’ merger on horizon

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Photo – Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Bahrain Air, the Gulf kingdom’s private carrier, is engaged in “serious” talks with local competitor Gulf Air for a possible merger, an Arabic language newspaper quoted a senior airline official as saying.

The Al Watan newspaper cited Bahrain Air Managing Director Ibrahim Al-Hamer as saying that his airline will need to buy aircraft to meet contract terms of operating a 12-plane fleet should it win a license to operate in Saudi Arabia.

Manama-based Bahrain Air and Gulf Air were among the seven airlines shortlisted last month to bid for a license to offer domestic routes in the neighbouring kingdom.

Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Samer Majali said at a press conference last week that a merger between the two airlines is possible as the country can’t afford the existence of both carriers, the Bahraini daily newspaper said.

Bahraini government insists that Gulf Air serves as a backbone of the national economy through its role in linking Bahrain to the world and providing jobs to thousands of people.

Many aviation experts believe a merger would also enable both airlines to expand their existing network of routes amid a limited number of traffic rights available.

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