Gulf Air has announced that it has signed an aircraft leasing agreement that will increase the size of its present fleet from 33 to 36 aircraft.
In terms of the leasing agreement, signed with Boeing last month, Gulf Air will take delivery of a further three Airbus wide-bodied A340-300 aircraft, one of which rolled off the delivery line at the Airbus factory in Toulouse at the end of October. This takes the total of A340s in the Gulf Air fleet to 10.
“The three aircraft will enter service early next year to meet the increasing requirements of our network and our commitment to daily frequencies,” said President and Chief Executive, James Hogan, confirming the agreements.
“With record results in the third quarter, we are lining up for a strong close to the year, and are well placed to move into the next phase of our network and fleet expansion during the second year of our restructuring programme,” he said. “Although the post-SARS recovery has been better than expected, the market still favours buyers, and we have been able to leverage these conditions to negotiate agreements on very good terms.”
This agreement follows leasing acquisitions in July this year, which added two new A340s and an A320 to the airline’s fleet.
“The expansion of our fleet is a vital part of Gulf Air’s restructuring strategy which aims to double the fleet to 60 aircraft by 2009,” he said.
The airline is proceeding with due diligence and has conducted a careful fleet requirement analysis. A detailed request for information sent out in July this year has already brought responses from all the major aircraft and engine manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, who are expected to submit further proposals in the coming months.
“Our increasing network and expanding fleet in addition to benefitting our customers, also offers new opportunities for the growing number of Gulf national pilots employed by the airline,” said Captain Hameed Ali, Vice President of Operations. “We have already started a training programme which will prepare our pilots to operate the new aircraft.”
About Gulf Air
Gulf Air was founded in 1950. Today, it is owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and is the only truly pan Gulf airline in the region. The airline’s network extends from Western Europe to Asia and covers 45 cities in 33 countries. The fleet is one of the most modern in the Middle East and comprises 33 aircraft.
The airline is in the first year of a three-year strategic recovery program, headed by President and Chief Executive, James Hogan. The airline’s aim is to further evolve by taking its renowned cultural strengths, which have been gained over more than half a century, into a global environment.