State-owned airline Gulf Air has become the latest carrier to seek to delay delivery of new aircraft. Acting CEO Waleed Abdulhameed Al Alawi confirmed that he would like to defer delivery of both Boeing and Airbus models over the next year.
Airlines around the world have been putting pressure on manufacturers to delay delivery. With so many planes grounded and networks still not operating to a maximum, airlines don’t want to receive new planes only to leave them in storage.
Now, Bahrain’s Gulf Air has become the most recent airline to confirm it would also like to extend delivery times. Gulf Air, understandably, does not have a big domestic network operating flights to 27 foreign countries. With half of its routes out of action, the airline does not have the need or the revenue to take delivery of new planes.
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Al Alawi confirmed to Reuters that the delivery of several new Airbus A320neos would be delayed until 2022, with just three A321neos being delivered this year. An order for 10 Airbus A220s has already been canceled. The airline is also in talks with Boeing to delay the delivery of five new 787-9 Dreamliners. However, delivery is still scheduled to take place later this year.
Gulf Air was originally set to receive 12 Airbus A320neos by the end of 2023 as a part of its first major fleet development project. The fleet changes are part of the airline’s 5-year plan, which was announced in 2018, although several orders were placed in 2016. The airline had placed an order for 10 Boeing Dreamliners, of which five have already been delivered.
According to the airline’s website, an incoming fleet of 39 aircraft is set to transform the airline. This doesn’t include the canceled order for 10 A220s. Previously the airline placed a massive order in 2016 at the Bahrain Air Show for almost 50 aircraft. The airline plans to make Bahrain a gateway for other airlines to open up travel through the Middle East and compete with the large hub in Dubai.
A boutique experience
The airline will move into a new terminal at Bahrain’s International Airport later this week. The new building will offer dedicated Gulf Air check-in desks and brand-new lounges. Gulf Air was involved in the new terminal design process, so it will undoubtedly be a pleasure for any passengers traveling through Bahrain.
Gulf Air has big plans with its new terminal and a new fleet. The airline will go head-to-head with the Middle East’s Big three carriers and offer flights to the US. This might sound risky, but the airline is positioning itself as a “boutique” carrier. It can’t offer the price or network of its neighboring airlines, but it can offer a quality, personalized experience.
Delaying aircraft delivery will undoubtedly push the airline’s plans to offer a boutique experience back. However, with some planes already delivered, a new terminal, and more aircraft on the way, a slight delay shouldn’t ruin their plans completely.
What do you think of Gulf Air’s plans? Are we about to see the rise of a new Middle Eastern Giant? Can Gulf Air compete with its neighbors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.