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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gamco looks ahead, despite Gulf Air's troubles

The decision of the Abu Dhabi government to pull out of Gulf Air – leaving just Bahrain and Oman as shareholders – leaves a question mark hanging over the future of Gulf Aircraft Maintenance (Gamco), the region's only big third-party maintenance, overhaul and repair (MRO) player, which was set up as a joint venture between the airline and the Abu Dhabi government in the late 1980s.

Gulf Air owns 40% of the company and provides about half of its revenues. Yet the majority shareholder, the Abu Dhabi emirate, is now backing its own horse – Etihad. This airline's headquarters sit next door to Gamco's 55-hectare facility at Abu Dhabi airport and its rapidly expanding new fleet is beginning to pass through Gamco's hangars and workshops. The carrier shares a chairman with Gamco and its support is likely to prove crucial.

Gulf Air – as well as Etihad – is treated as a third-party customer and is free to take its business elsewhere as long as it pays compensation for contracts signed, insists general manager Saif Al Mugharir, who has steered a financial turnaround at Gamco since he and chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif took charge in early 2001. He says the business can ride out whatever Gulf Air decides to do.
Source: Flight International


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