Bahrain-based airline Gulf Air says it will not back to down to Iran’s demands to rename the Gulf onboard its aircraft.

Historically, the waterway between Iran and the Gulf states has been the subject of much contention in the region. Iran says that the waterway is known as the Persian Gulf while the Arab states insist it is called the Arabian Gulf.

Gulf Air says the governments of Bahrain and Iran should discuss the issue.

“We respect the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, as the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, owned by the government of Bahrain, this issue must be discussed at governmental level through talks between the two governments,” says a spokesman for the airline.

“Gulf Air will be obliged to follow whatever decision [is] made by the government of Bahrain in this regard.”

On 15 July, Hussain Qasimi mayor of Shiraz in southwestern Iran said that local passengers using Gulf Air were upset with the airline for not referring to the waterway as the Persian Gulf.

Qasimi demanded government action be taken against the carrier, echoing previous comments made on the issue by senior officials in Iran.

On 22 February, Iran’s Roads and Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani said that “airlines of the southern Persian Gulf countries flying to Iran are warned to use the term Persian Gulf on their electronic display boards.” (MEED 1:3:10).

If they failed do so, Behbahani warned that the airlines would be banned from Iranian airspace for a month the first time and upon repetition, their aircraft will be grounded in Iran and flight permits to Iran would be revoked.