Middle Eastern carrier Gulf Air is focusing on three candidates for a permanent regional jet operation, having decided that it needs a type with a higher seating capacity than initially considered.

It is to choose between the Bombardier CSeries, the Embraer E-Jets family, and the Airbus A318 as it looks for aircraft to operate thinner routes with high frequency.

Gulf Air chief Samer Majali, speaking to ATI at the Arab Air Carriers Organization event in Cairo last week, said the Bahrain-based airline was "down to the finishing line" in its evaluation.

The airline has opted to introduce regional jets as part of its three-year turnaround programme, which Majali unveiled a year ago.

Gulf Air has already introduced a pair of Embraer 170s and, more recently, a pair of Embraer 190s to test the potential of smaller aircraft.

Majali says the airline is looking at permanent candidates in the 90- to 110-seat range, slightly higher than its previous requirement of fewer than 100 seats.

"We didn't want it to be a one-horse race," he says. The airline is looking for up to 10 aircraft and is aiming to reach a type decision before the end of the year.

Gulf Air is still in discussions with Boeing and Airbus to restructure its mainline fleet order backlog, as part of its effort to concentrate on smaller types, but hopes to conclude talks in a month or so.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news