Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol is considering wet leasing a portion of its grounded Boeing 767 fleet and deferring some of the 15 new Boeing 737s it is slated to take this year.

Gol continues to make monthly lease payments for seven 767s, which were used to operate a slate of now terminated long-haul services, although the fleet has been grounded for over six months. Gol CEO Constantino de Oliveira Junior says the carrier continues to pursue potential subleases "or even a wet lease or something like that to really reduce these losses and increase our revenues".

Earlier this year Oliveira revealed the carrier had signed letter of intents (LOIs) to sublease three of the seven 767s. But today he told investors these deals have still not been concluded.

"At this time we still have all the seven 767s in our fleet. They are grounded," he says. "We have some LOIs signed to place three of them. An LOI doesn't mean we will close the deal but we are looking to do that."

Gol has previously said it is committed to leasing its six 767-300s and one 767-200 for roughly another three to four years.

Gol ended 2008 with a fleet of 106 operational and nine grounded aircraft. It plans to end 2009 with an all-737 NG fleet consisting of 108 aircraft as it replaces this year its final batch of 737-300s.

But Oliveira says Gol has the flexibility to end 2009 with fewer than 108 aircraft if it elects not to take all 15 of the new 737s it is now slated to receive from Boeing.

"We still have a window of opportunity to discuss with the Boeing company, the factory, to postpone some deliveries," he says. "That's a discussion that hasn't closed yet but it is a possibility."

Gol already has already secured financing for all its 2009 and almost all of its 2010 new aircraft deliveries.

Oliveira adds Gol also has the option to return this year some of its 737 NG aircraft early to leasing companies. But he says the penalties associated with early returns make this alternative more costly than deferring new deliveries.

Gol is now planning to end 2010 with 115 aircraft, end 2011 with 121 aircraft and end 2012 with 127 737s. But this is also subject to change as Gol has several aircraft leases expiring during this period.

"From 2010 and beyond we have the flexibility to review our fleet and even adjust our fleet network to the right position in comparison to demand," Oliveira says.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news