Bahrain Air closes after 5 years; served 27 destinations in 15 countries; attacks govt. for protecting Gulf Air

Launch of Bahrain Air’s fourth Indian route to Trivandrum

The knives are now out: Happier days just 11 months ago (the launch of Bahrain Air’s fourth Indian route to Trivandrum). Now the failed airline’s shareholders have accused the Bahrain government of “strangulation” after failing to pay it compensation for forcing it to cut routes during political unrest, while accusing the minister of transport of bias (he is also a board member of Gulf Air).

Bahrain Air today announced that it was ceasing operations with immediate effect. The airline which launched in February 2008 with two A320s has apparently been a victim of the on-going political unrest in the country. According to research during the airline’s five year existence it served some 27 destinations in 15 countries across the Middle East from its Bahrain base, competing directly with Gulf Air on the vast majority.

Country Destination (code, launch date)
Bangladesh Chittagong (CGP, 21 Mar 10), Dhaka (DAC, 16 Mar 10)
Egypt Alexandria (ALY, 31 Mar 08), Alexandria (HBE, 21 Jun 12), Assiut (ATZ, 26 Nov 08),
Luxor (LXR, 21 Nov 08)
India Kochi (COK, 26 May 08), Kozhikode (CCJ, 1 Apr 09), Mumbai (BOM, 6 Jul 09), Thiruvananthapuram (TRV, 15 Mar 12)
Iran Mashad (MHD, 13 Feb 08)
Iraq Baghdad (BGW, 11 Sep 09), Najaf (NJF, 8 Oct 09)
Jordan Amman (AMM, 4 Feb 08)
Kuwait Kuwait City (KWI, 20 Nov 08)
Lebanon Beirut (BEY, 7 Feb 08)
Nepal Kathmandu (KTM, 17 Mar 09)
Qatar Doha (DOH, 3 Feb 08)
Saudi Arabia Jeddah (JED, 23 Jul 08), Riyadh (RUH, 9 Nov 09)
Sudan Khartoum (KRT, 16 Dec 08)
Syria Aleppo (ALP, 2 Jun 08), Damascus (DAM, 5 Feb 08)
Turkey Istanbul (IST, 16 Jun 10), Istanbul (SAW, 1 Jul 11)
UAE Abu Dhabi (AUH, 29 Mar 09), Dubai (DXB, 3 Feb 08)
Source: New Route Database

Although Bahrain Airport’s traffic grew by almost 9% last year to 8.5 million passengers, this is still below the airport’s record of just over 9 million set in 2009. During the same period (2009-2013) passenger numbers in Dubai have grown by 41% from 41 million to almost 58 million, while in Abu Dhabi the airport has seen an increase of 50% in annual passengers from 9.8 million to 14.7 million.

Excerpts from Bahrain Air’s bitter statement

Today’s (February 13) statement from the Bahrain Air Board of Directors was unequivocally bitter and very critical of the government, clearly accusing it of collusion over its ownership of Gulf Air, and perhaps showing just how bold government critics have become:

  • The company sustained considerable financial losses as a result of the unstable political and security situation in Bahrain.

  • In 2011, during Bahrain’s State of National Emergency, the airline was instructed to suspend flights to several destinations. Despite the Royal Decree, which states that all affected parties will be fairly compensated, the airline, despite making official claims, has received no compensation.

  • The airline is now being required to make immediate payments on past government debts or face closure at the same time as having its scheduled operations, both destinations and frequencies, being reduced considerably by the Civil Aviation Affairs in the Ministry of Transportation. This effectively strangles the airline.

  • The airline has spared no effort to negotiate a solution with the Minister of Transportation (who is also an active board member of Gulf Air). However, he has shown no inclination to provide a meaningful solution. His decisions to restrict route approvals have cost the airline BD 4.5 million in lost revenues over the last 3 months.

  • Today is a sad day for all Bahrain Air shareholders and employees. We helped promote Bahrain as a business and leisure destination and Bahrain International Airport as a passenger hub in line with the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030. In doing so, we have demonstrated that it is possible to provide high quality and reliable scheduled airline services a fraction of the costs achieved by state airlines.


  1. Jürgen says:


    Yes, political partiality can be killing (and must be taken into consideration, not only in the Middle East). And by ceasing operations, the airline obviously has failed to demonstrate what their last statement says.

    And just to take out an argument: Dubai and Emirates Airlines have established themselves as “the” Middle East hub. FlyDubai was established in a cooperative approach with Emirates, not truly as a competitor.

    That said: It is always sad to see an airline leaving and no matter what politicians think when “protecting” “their” monopoly, it is in the end short-sighted.

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