As part of its fleet refurbishment plan, Gulf Air has placed an order for 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft for an estimated value of $6 billion (Dh22bn).
The Bahrain-based carrier has already signed a confirmed agreement for 14 787 long-haul aircraft for $4bn out of 24 aeroplanes, according to the airline’s spokesperson, Adnan Malek.
“We eventually plan to take the order for 787s up to 24 aircraft, which will amount to a total order value of $6bn,” he said. While the delivery for the confirmed 787s will begin in 2016, the loss-making airline will lease more than a dozen 787s starting 2010.
“We want to bring the 787s into service much before 2016 and therefore, we have decided we would also lease some. Once we start getting the 787s we have bought, we will decide what to do with the leased ones depending on how growth plans go,” Malek told Emirates Business.
Malek said the company is hoping the new fleet plan would help the airline, which has 30 aircraft, get out of its losses. “The airline was making losses of close to $2 million a day until August 2007. But now we have managed to reduce them to $600,000 a day,” said Malek.
“We are expecting to break even and become a profitable carrier by 2009. We are in an investment stage right now.”
Asked if the airline will launch an initial public offering to raise money for the aircraft acquisition, Malek said most of the money would be raised through banks and financial institutions.
Chairman Mahmood Al Kooheji had said during the Dubai Airshow in November that the airline is planning to finance its expansion and restructuring with a mix of options, including an IPO and sukuk. “We are considering a lot of options and once the turnaround takes place, we would like to go in for an IPO maybe by the end of 2008 or the year after,” he said.
Airbus denies order
Airbus has denied reports that it is in talks with Gulf Air to sell eight A320 aircraft. Al Kooheji was quoted as saying that his airline is eyeing a potential order for eight A320s, for which the two sides may reach final agreement by the end of March.
Airbus’s President for the Middle East, Habib Fekih, told Emirates Business: “This news is totally wrong. Nobody from the airline has called Airbus to say they are buying eight A320s from us. Yes, we had signed an MoU with Gulf Air last year in December for 41 aircraft subject to their approval but we have not heard anything from them.”
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.