Manama: Bahrain has become the sole owner of Gulf Air after Oman said yesterday that it was ceasing to be a stakeholder in the airline with immediate effect.

Oman's formal withdrawal was stated in an official letter delivered by its Economy Minister Ahmad Bin Abdul Nabi Makki to Bahrain's finance minister Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa at a meeting in Manama.

Following the decision, the Gulf Air board of directors held an impromptu meeting that included representatives from both countries to discuss the modalities of the transfer of the Omani shares and assets which, according to analysts, should last a maximum of six months. However, Bahrain's solo management of the company started yesterday.

Once an aviation sector leader in the Middle East, Gulf Air, initially owned by Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, has run into deep financial difficulties and has needed several cash injections.

Qatar withdrew in 2002 to set up its own airline, followed by Abu Dhabi in December 2005.