22,000 Bahrain Air tickets 'lost'
Manama, March 19, 2013
Around 22,000 Bahrain Air tickets purchased by customers were rendered invalid when the carrier went into voluntary liquidation last month, according to a former senior employee.
They were reportedly sold to customers before the airline suspended all its operations on February 12.
The decision to cease operations resulted in passengers travelling on that day getting stranded, while all customers were advised to buy tickets on alternative airlines and submit claims to the liquidator.
Former Bahrain Air ground services senior manager Salah Ahmed Abdulla told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, that customers had still not been compensated.
"Twenty-two thousand tickets were sold and processed before the liquidation and were either never used or partly used, meaning someone didn't use the return ticket," he said.
"That money was collected, but resources were not used since they were never honoured. Where is that money?"
Meanwhile, he said concern was mounting over delays in severance payments to former staff and revealed more ex-employees were planning to take the carrier to court.
The GDN reported last Thursday that 34 former staff had taken legal action against Bahrain Air, demanding compensation after losing their jobs.
A case was lodged in the High Civil Court by a group including pilots, cabin crew, administrative employees, sales staff and management. Abdulla revealed another 31 ex-employees were planning to file a similar case.
Abdulla said delays in severance packages were making the situation difficult, particularly for expats. "The foreign workers are in trouble," he said.
"They are stuck here waiting for the packages, but their packages will not even cover their rent or loans they have taken. Now the airline industry is not hiring and they cannot travel or work because of visa restrictions related to debt," he added.
The Bahrain Air Trade Union earlier announced that ex-employees would get 24 days' pay for every year they worked for the carrier.
However, Labour Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Dossary later said that redundancy packages would be paid in two instalments.
He said this consisted of an initial payment of 40 per cent, after which point the airline would settle its remaining debts, before paying off the remaining 60 per cent owed to staff.
"Bahrain Air has its commitments to the banks first, then to its suppliers and somewhere near the end are the staff," complained Abdulla.
"They want to split up the final payment and give no time frame for the payment to be completed. They said they will pay 40 per cent and the remaining 60 per cent will be paid later, but when?," he asked.
"I'm worried most people will never see that 60 per cent if they accept the 40 per cent," he added.
The liquidator, Mourad Consultancy, has repeatedly declined to comment while former Bahrain Air chief executive Richard Nuttall was unavailable for comment yesterday.-TradeArabia News Service