Bahrain’s carrier Gulf Air is to be privatised by the end of 2011, according to a Reuters report.

In the report, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Essa al-Khalifa, head of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, said privatisation of the airline would realistically take one year.

Officials at Gulf Air were unavailable for comment.

Earlier, the airline said although it expected to make an operating loss of $500m in 2009, it was now focusing on shorter routes in an attempt to make the carrier profitable.

Gulf Air’s chief executive officer Samer Majali said in January that by focusing operations on regional routes, he expected the airline to make savings in excess of 30 per cent (MEED 24:1:10).