Air Transport World

Phoenix: arising from the ashes of its near-death experience, Gulf Air is coming back under the leadership of its dynamic CEO. .(Company Profile)

Nobody promised James Hogan a rose garden when he took over as president and CEO of Gulf Air on May 12, 2002. Indeed, until three of the "flying falcon's" four owners agreed to a do-or-die recapitalization at the end of that month, the former COO of bmi british midland didn't know whether he would be presiding over a rebirth or a funeral of one of the region's oldest airlines.

Today those dark days appear to be receding into memory. Gulf Air is in the first year of a three-year strategic recovery bid unanimously endorsed in December by its trinational owners--Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Oman--who are in the process of injecting Bd90 million ($238.7 million) to provide the financial muscle behind Hogan's restructuring. The fourth member, Qatar, pulled out of the quartet last spring, reportedly convinced that the airline could not right itself in time to stave off collapse.

Gulf Air says it intends to slash debt from Bd264 million to Bd20 million by year end. Breakeven is programmed for 2004 and a Bd5 million profit is targeted for 2005.

Addressing the airline's worldwide sales and marketing conference in January, Hogan told more than 200 personnel from across the network that he was "confident the tough targets we have set can be achieved." Early returns give grounds for guarded optimism. After losing Bd52.2 million in 2001, the carrier slowed the flow of red ink to less than Bd42 million last year, handily beating its projected loss of Bd49 million by 14%. …

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