August 28, 2012 / 2:06 PM / 5 years ago

Gulf Air revenue up as passenger numbers rise

DUBAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air, struggling to recover from the effects of local political unrest, achieved a 6 percent rise in revenue in the six months through June on the back of an increase in passenger numbers.

The airline said in an emailed statement on Tuesday it had carried 13 percent more passengers in the first half compared with a year before, though it gave no net figures for passenger numbers or for revenue and profit.

The airline also said it had made savings in its cost base of 6.8 million dinars ($18 million) in the period but again gave no net figure.

The airline has been hit by falling passenger numbers as anti-government protests continued for months in the tiny island kingdom, after an uprising last year led by the island’s Shi‘ite Muslim majority.

Gulf Air said in August it would resume flights to the lucrative routes of Iran and Iraq from Sept. 20. Services to these Shiite-led countries were suspended at the height of the anti-government protests in 2011.

Competition from other Middle East airlines such as Etihad, Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates have also impacted its business and Gulf Air said in January it planned to shrink operations and seek cash from government funds.

The airline laid off 200 employees in May last year with bookings down by a quarter following the Arab Spring uprisings.

“We are pushing forward with our ... efficiency measures in 2012 and are targeting a further 15 percent reduction in (the company‘s) cost base for the full year,” said Samer Majali, Gulf Air chief executive, in the statement.

The airline said its load factor grew by 5 percent over the prior-year period to 77 percent. ($1 = 0.3771 Bahraini dinars) (Reporting by Praveen Menon and Andrew Hammond; Editing by David Holmes)

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