Gulf Air puts A340 fleet on the market

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Gulf Air is seeking takers for its Airbus A340s as its newly appointed chief executive begins a "comprehensive review" of the loss-making Bahraini flag carrier.

Aircraft trading and placement company Avinco has been handed a remarketing mandate for the five A340-300s that Gulf Air owns. The airline also has a further four A340-300s on lease.

The five aircraft - which according to Flightglobal's ACAS database are 13-15 years old - are being put up for sale or lease, says Avinco chief Francois Gautier.

The move marks the first major fleet decision since the airline came under new management - former Royal Jordanian head Samer Majali replaced Bjorn Naf as chief executive in August.

simon wilson/airteamimages.com
 © Simon Wilson/AirTeamImages.com

Majali says that "Gulf Air is not sustainable and is losing public money", but he warns that it must become less reliant on subsidies from the kingdom. Majali has told employees he will undertake a "comprehensive review" of the airline's strategy - something which, he says, has not been implemented since Gulf Air became the Bahraini flag-carrier.

Oman became the last of its local Gulf shareholders to pull out in 2007, following Abu Dhabi and Qatar's withdrawals, leaving Bahrain as the sole investor.

"We do not yet know what size or shape Gulf Air will take following this review," says Majali. "However, as a result it may be necessary for us to look at our fleet orders and adjust them accordingly to the airline's newly defined requirements."

Gulf Air has 20 Airbus A330s and 24 Boeing 787s on order, as well as a batch of A320s. In April the airline said it would introduce 10 new A320s during the coming year.

"We are keeping an open mind and will look at all potential avenues to achieve a sustainable business," Majali says. "This may include developing existing or building new alliance or strategic partnerships with other airlines."

Gulf Air has long intended to phase out its A340s, originally in favour of leasing Boeing 777-300ERs from Jet Airways. But the carrier, having flown the 777s for a few months, opted not to take the aircraft for the long-term dry-lease it had been considering.