The Swiss national has been acting CEO at Bahrain’s national carrier since July, when he took over following the abrupt departure of Andre Dose after four months in the job (MEED 23:7:07).

At the Dubai Airshow on 13 November, company chairman Mahmood al-Kooheji said Naf had the full endorsement of the board but did not confirm his appointment. Company sources now say the board wants to make the official announcement in Bahrain. This is expected to be done by early December.

Naf has been working with Al-Kooheji during the company’s negotiations with Airbus and Boeing to purchase a new fleet of 35 aircraft for $3bn. The deal is also anticipated to go ahead by the end of 2007 (MEED 13:11:07).

His prominent role in the discussions increased speculation that his position would be made permanent.

Sources also confirm that the airline’s former official spokesman, Hisham al-Fateh, has now left the company. Al-Fateh has been on indefinite leave following complaints from graduate pilots that he had helped his sister cheat in a pilot exam.

It is also alleged that the spokesman gave tickets for the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix to friends, which had been intended for VIPs and dignitaries. Gulf Air is a principal sponsor of the event.

An official statement on Al-Fateh’s position is expected by the end of November.