Gulf Air plans to lease out two A340s

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Middle Eastern carrier Gulf Air is intending to lease out two of its Airbus A340s under a long-term arrangement, although it has yet to secure a taker.

Gulf Air chief executive Bjorn Naf disclosed the plan during a briefing at the Paris Air Show.

He says the carrier, which has been planning to phase out its A340 fleet, is "looking at leasing out two units" and is "optimistic" of identifying a "long-term" lessee soon.

Gulf Air is still intending to phase out the A340s - of which it has nine - but it has reconsidered its plans to lease Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

It plans to return all the 777s to India's Jet Airways by about October, having opted not to pursue a dry-lease.

Naf tells Flightglobal sister publication Air Transport Intelligence that the A340s are "still fit for purpose" but admits that the impact of the economic slowdown over the past few months has forced the carrier to be flexible with its plans.

"We couldn't afford to go to dry-lease on such a big ship," he says, referring to the 777s and adding that Gulf Air could not allow itself to be "too proud" to return the twin-jets as the business case changed.