Gulf Air Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus A321neo

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Gulf Air has picked up its first Airbus A321neo aircraft, with the plane landing softly at its hub airport at Bahrain International (BAH). The carrier has another seven A321neo’s to be delivered, and nine Airbus A321LRs.

The A321neo as mocked up by Airbus back in 2016. Photo: Airbus

When was the aircraft delivered?

Airbus handed over the aircraft from Hamburg (XFW) to Bahrain International (BAH) overnight on the 21st/22nd of August. the flight was number Gulf Air 9000 (GF9000)

Gulf Air
Photo: Flight Aware

Why did Gulf Air order the Airbus A321neo?

Gulf Air ordered the aircraft as part of a fleet upgrade, with the A321neo set to replace the A320ceo.

Commenting on the agreement in an Airbus press release, Gulf Air A/Chief Executive Officer Mr. Maher Salman Al Musallam said,

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.”

Onboard, the aircraft has 16 business class seats and 150 economy class seats, for a total of 166 seats. Those passengers familiar with the A320neo shouldn’t expect anything different. 

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Gulf Air also made a slew of other aircraft orders including:

  • Nine long-range Airbus A321LRs (possibly upgrading them to XLRs).
  • A fleet of Airbus A320neos to replace the A320-200 fleet.
  • A replacement fleet of 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which will complete the replacement of the Airbus A330 fleet.
  • Ten Airbus A220 aircraft.

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Where will it fly?

The aircraft seems to be scheduled for service from Bahrain to Frankfurt on the 25th and with a return to Bahrain on the 26th of this month.

Originally Gulf Air had big plans for the aircraft, using it as an exciting puzzle piece for its expansion into western Europe. Back in January, it was reported that the 166 seater aircraft would fly twice a week to Nice, France, with other routes to Athens.

“On the western side of our network map, and coinciding with our expansion in Europe in summer 2020, we will launch flights to Nice as a boutique destination catering to our premium leisure travelers. As we welcome our new A321neo…we will serve our European routes with a brand new aircraft featuring flat-beds and superior in-flight entertainment system for more enjoyable journeys with Gulf Air.” – Said Gulf Air’s Chairman Zayed R. Alzayani at the Kuwait Aviation Show 2020 back in January, reported by CH-Aviation.

The carrier also wanted to have the aircraft type fly to Dubai and Paris. Alas, the current situation in the world may have forced the airline to rethink its expansion plans and put its lofty, ambitious goals on the back burner. It is unknown how much of this network is possible today, but until we know for sure, its likey Gulf Air will use the aircraft to replace less fuel-efficient models.

What do you think? Are you excited to fly onboard the Airbus A321neo? Let us know in the comments.

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