Gulf Air expat staff credit card freeze

CrediMax, a credit card issuing company in Bahrain, has confirmed that it has frozen the credit cards of expatriate Gulf Air staff and all Bahrain Air employees as a precaution, following announcements that the country’s two airlines were laying off staff.

Last week, the privately operated airline Bahrain Air announced the termination of its operations, citing political unrest in the Gulf nation and hinting at the government’s decision to not bail them out.

All Bahrain Air flights since Wednesday, February 13, 2013, remain cancelled and the debt-ridden said it plans to sell off its assets.

Additionally, in mid-January, Gulf Air announced a restructuring strategy, which includes a ‘right-sized workforce’.

“All cost elements of the business will be rationalised,” the airline announced. “Gulf Air’s workforce requirement will be aligned to meet the operational, maintenance and administrative needs of the revised fleet and network,” it said.

“Right-sizing will be implemented across all levels of the organisation and will be done on a performance-based review and individual job assessment against business-critical requirements.

Priority will be on retaining the most productive employees with focus on maintaining key talent.”

According to the airline’s union, more than 1,200 employees stand to lose their jobs as a result of the restructuring.

These moves have led the credit card issuing company to ‘suspend’ the cards of all Bahrain Air employees and expat Gulf Air staff to limit their own losses.

A Credimax representative told the GDN that the suspension of credit cards was undertaken to ensure people who lost their jobs did not run up massive bills and then leave the country – or clock up debts they could not pay back.

He added staff who could prove they were still in their jobs would have cards issued by CrediMax reactivated immediately.

“It would be a credit risk for us not to, but we are not cancelling the cards – we are just asking for a salary certificate so that we can know they are still employed,” he told the GDN.