Gulf Air is to suspend eight routes and cut jobs to focus on regional flights in the face of competition from Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

The Bahrain carrier is seeking 24% in cost savings by the end of 2013.

The airline is to concentrate on local point-to-point services rather than targeting transfer traffic, a market dominated by the big three Middle Eastern airlines.

“All cost elements of the business will be rationalised,” Gulf Air said.

The size of the workforce “will be aligned to meet the operational, maintenance and administrative needs of the revised fleet and network”.

The reduced network will serve selected markets in Europe, East Asia and India, as well as the Middle East, the carrier said.

Gulf Air currently serves 42 cities in 29 countries, including Heathrow, with a fleet of 38 aircraft.