Gulf Air brings in 10 new A320s but rethinks 777 lease plan

By Olivier Bonnassies

Gulf Air‘s narrowbody fleet-renewal effort will see it introduce 10 new Airbus A320s over the coming year. However, the Bahraini airline has reversed plans to retain its newly introduced Boeing 777-300ERs through a dry lease.

The carrier last year ordered 15 A320s, and Flight International‘s sister publication Commercial Aviation Online understands that the first will be delivered in September, with another three arriving throughout the second half of the year.

Gulf Air chief executive Bjorn Naf told CAO that another six aircraft would be delivered in the first half of 2010. “One year from now we will have completely refleeted our A320 product,” he says.

Gulf Air
© Gulf Air

Meanwhile, in a sudden reversal of its strategy, Gulf Air is abandoning the planned dry-lease of four 777-300ERs from Jet Airways. It brought in the first of four 777s only last month, and intended to have all four by May on an initial six-month wet-lease from the Indian carrier and then move to a dry-lease arrangement.

Although it insists it has not cancelled any agreement with Jet Airways, because a firm dry-lease contract had not been signed, Gulf Air admits the switch to the dry lease was “subject to several business considerations”, including market conditions.

“After careful analysis of various commercial and other business considerations, Gulf Air has decided not to pursue the dry-lease option for the foreseeable future,” says the airline.

Gulf Air indicates that the four 777s will leave the fleet once the wet-lease period expires, but says that “all options” are being assessed. It does not say whether the aircraft may be retained through a wet-lease extension.