Gulf Air abandons plans to dry-lease Jet 777s

By David Kaminski-Morrow

Middle Eastern carrier Gulf Air has reversed plans to retain its newly-introduced Boeing 777-300ERs through a dry lease, after opting not to pursue such an arrangement once the current wet-lease from Jet Airways expires.

The Bahrain-based airline brought in the first of four 777s only last month, and intended to have all four by May on an initial six-month wet-lease from the Indian carrier.

Gulf Air chief Bjorn Naf told Flightglobal sister publication Air Transport Intelligence in Bahrain last month that the airline was looking to shorten the wet-lease period, perhaps to two months, in order to advance the dry-lease handover.

But in a sudden reversal of its strategy, Gulf Air is abandoning the dry-lease plan.

It insists it has not cancelled any agreement with Jet Airways, because a firm dry-lease contract had not been signed. But it admits that the switch to the dry lease was "subject to several business considerations" including market conditions.

Gulf Air
© Gulf Air

"After careful analysis of various commercial and other business considerations, Gulf Air has decided not to pursue the dry-lease option for the foreseeable future," says the airline.

Gulf Air indicates that the four 777s will leave the fleet once the wet-lease period expires but a spokeswoman for the airline states that "all options" are being assessed. She does not state whether Gulf Air might hold on to some of the jets through a wet-lease extension.

The airline had intended to use the 777s as a bridge to provide capacity before its Boeing 787s arrive, and allow it to phase out its Airbus A340s.

Gulf Air has recently increased its firm 787 order from 16 to 24 aircraft, according to Boeing records, but the slot positions and delivery dates have not been disclosed.

It is unclear whether the 777 decision is related to this expanded 787 order, although Gulf Air has previously said that it wanted to introduce 787s much earlier than the 2016 date given for its original 16 firm aircraft.

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