Oman Air to lease six 787s from Kuwait's ALAFCO

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Middle Eastern carrier Oman Air has tentatively agreed to acquire six Boeing 787-8 aircraft from Kuwait’s Aviation Lease and Finance Company (ALAFCO), a month after the lessor scrapped a deal to supply the twin-jets to Kuwait Airways.

Oman Air, which has signed a memorandum of understanding for the aircraft, is to take the 787s in three batches beginning in 2012. The second batch will be delivered in 2014 and the final aircraft will arrive in 2015.

A spokesman for ALAFCO indicates that Oman Air will be taking the General Electric GEnx-powered version of the 787. ALAFCO has 22 Boeing 787-8s on order, 12 of which are due to be equipped with GEnx engines.

ALAFCO had been intending to supply 12 787s to Kuwait Airways but this plan fell through at the end of August after the Kuwaiti flag-carrier failed to obtain the necessary Government approvals for the finance and lease of the aircraft.

The spokesman for says that, owing to the situation, the lessor has opted to remarket the 787s. He says: “Demand for this aircraft has been unprecedented.”

Oman Air will lease the aircraft for a 12-year period. While the airline’s jet fleet is entirely comprised of Boeing 737s, the Muscat-based carrier is venturing back into long-haul operations and has been assessing various long-haul types.

The 787 decision, however, still comes as something of a surprise because – although the 787 and Airbus A350 have featured in Oman Air’s fleet-renewal studies – the airline has almost exclusively mentioned Airbus aircraft when setting out its long-haul plans.

It intends to use Airbus A330 and A310 jets to start long-haul services later this year and Oman Air chief executive Ziad Al-Haremi has openly spoken about acquiring a large fleet of Airbus A330s in the period to 2011.

Oman Air has yet to give more details about any plans for the 787s and it is unclear when the memorandum of understanding will be firmed.