As part of its fleet renewal strategy, Gulf Air in 2016, announced a firm order of 29 A320neo Family. The order included 17 A321neos, nine of which would be the extended-range LR variant. The first of these arrived at the Bahrain airline in August. Here’s what we know of the aircraft so far.
“I am delighted that we will enhance and simplify our fleet structure building on Airbus aircraft. This restructured order meets Gulf Air’s future fleet requirement and our network expansion plans. As a result, I now look forward to furthering Gulf Air’s fleet modernization process while supporting our network and overall passenger experience enhancement strategies.” -Mr. Maher Salman Al Musallam, Gulf Air A/Chief Executive Officer via Airbus Press Release
The first delivery
According to AIB Family Fleets, the delivery flight of the first brand new A321 jet took place on August 21st of 2020. The aircraft is registered as A9C-NA with MSN 9433 and was flown from Airbus’ German A320 family assembly facility at Hamburg Finkenwerder to Gulf Air’s home at Bahrain International Airport. The jet is powered by two CFMI powerplants.
After delivery in late August, it took about three weeks for the airline to publish a video to Twitter showing off its new cabin:
Introducing our first Airbus A321neoLR! Enjoy the flatbed seats in our Falcon Gold cabin designed for extra comfort while you sleep or the enhanced leg room in Economy class.#GulfAir #Bahrain #طيران_الخليج #البحرين pic.twitter.com/HgKUHllMUH
— Gulf Air (@GulfAir) September 16, 2020
Since arriving at the airline, this A321LR has been busy! According to FlightRadar24.com, the jet has been put on a Bahrain-Frankfurt-Paris service. This is not exactly a triangle-route as it goes from Frankfurt to Paris and back to Frankfurt again. But it’s not a fifth-freedom route either. The airline was going to use this aircraft for flights to Nice before the global crisis took place – which likely changed its plans and schedule for this service.
Gulf Air’s A321LR cabin
According to The Design Air, the carrier is the first airline in the Middle East to operate this type of aircraft with flat-bed seats. The source also reports that this business class hard product is the same Collins Aerospace Diamond product found on Qatar Airways’s A320family aircraft. There are 16 of these lie-flat business class seats – otherwise known as “Falcon Gold seats,” which are also equipped with a custom privacy divider.
Situated behind these are 150 economy class seats, all equipped with the latest in-flight entertainment systems.
“The aircraft is the perfect size of a flight to Europe as it boasts the epitome of the overall boutique experience with the opportunity to provide more personalised service, cosier cabin and faster boarding and disembarking,” -Gulf Air via The Design Air
According to Economy Class and Beyond, Gulf Air has selected the Recaro CL3710 for its economy class seats. The CL3710 has been seen with many widebody aircraft. However, this is one of the first deployments of this seat in a single-aisle jet.
This seat features a six-way adjustable headrest, Recaro-patented extended seat bottom, a seamless flip cushion for enhanced lumbar support, and a 30-inch seat pitch.
A321LR inflight connectivity
In April of 2019, it was announced that Gulf Air’s A321LRs would feature inflight connectivity from Thales InFlyt, powered by the Inmarsat GX Aviation platform.
According to PaxEx.aero, Inmarsat’s services provide a significant boost in connectivity focused on the Middle East region and aviation routes from the region towards Europe and the Indian sub-continent.
Inmartsat calls its product “the first and only inflight broadband solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator, used by many of the world’s leading airlines.”
What do you think of Gulf Air’s most recent single-aisle jet? Let us know in the comments!