Dubai: Bahrain state carrier Gulf Air will buy 40 Boeing and Airbus aircraft at the Bahrain International Air Show on Thursday, Acting Chief Executive Maher Salman Al Musallam told Gulf News on Wednesday.
The order, a combination of new purchases and the restructuring of 2008 Boeing and Airbus orders, will fulfil the airlines requirements for the next twenty years, replacing ageing aircraft in the fleet, he said by phone.
Gulf Air will convert a 2008 order of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners for the larger, longer range 787-9 variant, Al Musallam said, though declined to say whether all 24 aircraft ordered in 2008 will be converted. An individual with knowledge of the deal told Gulf News the airline is converting all 24 787-8’s into 787-9’s, making the deal valued at $6.35 billion at list prices. The 2008 deal was valued at $6 billion at the time. It is common for airlines to receive discounts against list prices. A Boeing spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Gulf News.
Gulf Air will also convert a 2008 order of 20 wide body, twin aisle Airbus A330-300’s to for narrow body, single aisle A320neos (new engine option) and A321neos, Al Musallam said, however, he did not say how many narrow body aircraft Gulf Air will be taking. An Airbus spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Gulf News.
Al Musallam said the 40 aircraft ordered on Thursday will come from “restructured orders with new orders.”
Gulf Air is restructuring its 2008 order to consolidate its future fleet to consist of solely wide body Boeing aircraft and narrow body Airbus aircraft. Its current fleet is made up of 28 Airbus narrow and wide body aircraft, including 6 A330s that will be phased out over time.
“This is our capabilities in Gulf Air, we could not operate two type of wide body [aircraft] at the same time,” Al Musallam said. He said he expects delivery to start from 2018.
Al Musallam declined to comment on how the airline will fund the 40 new aircraft with details of the order to be formally announced on Thursday at Bahrain International Air Show. He did say that the new aircraft will be fitted with two classes; economy and business, the same layout as its existing fleet.
Gulf Air is planning to expand its network with the new aircraft and is currently assessing the United States market, although Al Musallam warned the potential is “very limited” for Gulf Air given existing competition from other Gulf carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways.
The aircraft comes amid a restructuring process that saw the airline cut its losses by 32 per cent to 67.7 million Bahraini dinars in 2014.