Jobs of Bahrainis in aviation sector ‘secure’

Companies were under huge pressure to dismiss employees due to costs and low revenue; only expats were sacked

  
Situation of the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus The severe and continuous, does not stop affecting the global economy. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Situation of the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus The severe and continuous, does not stop affecting the global economy. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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No Bahraini has been sacked from the aviation sector and affiliates over the past year despite the impact of Covid-19, affirmed Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed.

He told MPs during the weekly session yesterday that only expats were dismissed as companies had to reduce costs.

He also revealed talks were held with Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel Humaidan on Monday to help the aviation sector, especially since wage support for Bahrainis was discontinued.

“We are looking at ways to support the aviation sector and we have ensured that no Bahraini has been sacked from main companies or affiliates,” said Mr Ahmed.

“Companies were under huge pressure to dismiss employees due to costs and low revenue; only expats were sacked.

“The wage support for Bahrainis ended last month and there are ideas on how to provide something in the next period.”

The minister said the Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) was aiming for 90 per cent Bahrainisation.

He told MPs in writing prior to his Zoom appearance that lucrative commercial deals and contractual incentives will be provided to companies operating to and from Bahrain International Airport (BIA) with the aim of boosting traffic flow and attracting new businesses.

The new passenger terminal begins operations on January 28, cementing Bahrain’s position as a major travel hub in the region.

DROP

Mr Ahmed said passenger flow through BIA had dropped by 76pc last year compared with 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recovery is expected by early 2023-2024, he said, adding that businesses suffered a massive hit last year with the number of companies operating from the airport dropping from 27 to 12.

This affected the finances of associated companies such as the BAC, Bahrain Duty Free, fuel suppliers and others who directly or indirectly involved in the sector.

The statistics provided by the minister covered the period from January to November.

Cargo sector was the least affected as supplies, especially medical equipment and medicines, continued to flow in and out.

The new $1.1 billion airport terminal complex will be four times larger than the current facility and capable of processing 130,000 air traffic movements per annum with a handling capacity of 4,700 bags per hour.

It will also increase the airport’s capacity to 14 million passengers a year.

The project includes a central utility complex, 5,500 parking spaces, a larger duty-free shopping area, two reception and hospitality lounges for first class and business class travellers, plus a private aviation building providing services for private jet owners and passengers.

Separately, Mr Ahmed, who is also politically responsible for the Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company (Edamah), said Sitra Mall could soon be revamped to attract more tenants.

He was responding to another question by Parliament legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Fadhel Al Sawad.

“We are expecting more mall occupancy from the current average of 39pc by the fourth quarter of this year under a five-year plan.“We are hoping for 86pc occupancy with revenues of between BD1.3m and BD1.4m.”

INTENTION

Meanwhile, in response to a question by Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee vice-chairman Isa Al Dossary, Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Wael Al Mubarak said there was no intention to end subsided rates for Bahraini households.

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf also responded to two questions related to rules and regulations on reclamation and issuance of licences, and leasing agricultural plots in Hamala and Howrat A’ali.

Parliament chairwoman Fouzia Zainal congratulated MPs and the general-secretariat for obtaining the latest ISO quality certification.

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