Bahrain Airport Company defends Marhaba deal
Manama, June 8, 2012
The Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has defended its decision to award the 'Meet and Assist' contract to Dubai company marhaba, operated by Dnata, and said it was selected after a strict tendering process.
BAC chairman Khalid Al Rumaihi said marhaba made the winning bid.
'Many local firms were invited, some declined the invitation, others were found commercially inferior,' he said. 'That is why marhaba was the logical selection to help enhance the airport's passenger services.'
He was reacting to criticism by Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member and tourism committee chairman Nabeel Kanoo, who earlier said a Bahraini company should have been chosen.
Al Rumaihi said marhaba's offer was superior and was backed up with evidence of successful international delivery across other international airports.
'It will deliver improved income to reinvest into the airport development.
'The contract will be within BAC's control and supervision and there are requirements marhaba must deliver to satisfy contractual obligations and fulfil the objectives of the concession,' said Mr Al Rumaihi.
'As part of our keenness to support local businesses, marhaba is also mandated to offer its products through local travel agents, offering them more services to sell, which will bring more income to Bahrain's travel industry.'
Al Rumaihi said Bahrain was known as the most open economy in the Middle East, a reputation created through consistently delivering on fair competition.
'Artificially favouring local suppliers with inferior bids is not sustainable in an economy like Bahrain's that relies on trade and will not deliver the government's ambitions for a diverse and successful economy driven by private sector success.
'Bahrain in general and the airport in particular rely on global trade and the standards we deliver should reflect that.'
He said the BAC was given the mandate to operate the airport in March 2010.
'Part of it is to make the airport commercially successful in what is a very competitive industry. That success will be driven by managing costs and delivering new successful services and products that will increase revenue. All of this must be part of delivering great customer service.'
Al Rumaihi said to achieve its objectives, BAC has been investing in creating standards and guidelines to ensure most efficient and cost-effective services for passengers, other users and Bahrain.
'Part of doing this is creating a transparent process to select suppliers and operators to provide the highest quality of services that will commercially complement the airport and allow BAC to keep investing in its services, assets and facilities,' he added.
Kanoo had said priority should be given to local firms which had proved to be capable of managing the airport, with their expertise and competence in the field of hospitality and reception.
He said all GCC airports are being run by a national company or carrier except Bahrain and expressed local companies' indignation at the decision which, he said, will negatively affect their profitability at the airport.
'Local tourism companies are in need of support and such an opportunity would help revive the tourism sector.'
He said many firms had urged authorities to go back on the decision and authorise them to run the airport, but BAC insisted on signing the contract with marhaba.
Kanoo described the BAC tender as 'unfeasible' for local firms and said they should be supported in the aftermath of last year's unrest.
He urged authorities to intervene. All 'Meet and Assist' services are not too complicated for local firms to carry out, Kanoo said.-TradeArabia News Service