Gulf Air to lease four Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ERs

Jet Airways procured ten ultra-luxuriously appointed Boeing 777-300ERs for its ambitious international expansion. It even won awards for its international first class, featuring private suites.

Now those plans are in tatters, and Jet has abandoned its international ambitions, at least for the foreseeable future. Recently TravelBizMonitor reported

Jet Airways, has dropped its expansion plan, especially plans of expanding overseas informed a top official source of the airline. “We have dropped plans for overseas expansion for the time being. Now our focus will be on consolidation. In the domestic markets also, we are reducing capacity. We are also going slow on the acquisition of new aircraft,” said the source. As part of their cost-cutting plan, Jet Airways may also resort to leasing out their fleet.

Jet Airways/Turkish THY/Gulf Air
Boeing 777-300ER seat map.

The “may lease out its fleet” is already an “is leasing out its fleet”. Turkish Airlines THY is already reaping the benefit of the three 777s it has leased from Jet. THY has been enjoying unprecedented success with its 777, and a possible fourth Jet 777 is rumoured expected to join THY soon.

Now, Business Traveller and Air Transport Intelligence are reporting, Bahrain based, Gulf Air is expected to lease four Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ERs, which it will introduce on routes including London Heathrow from March.

Gulf Air chief executive Bjorn Naf has said the carrier would take all four 312-seat 777s this year, and lease them for around three years. While Naf declined to identify the source of the aircraft, it is certainly Jet Airways. Gulf Air has already leased two Airbus A330s from Jet Airways, which has also been actively seeking to lease out its 777-300ERs to generate desperately needed cash.

The 777s would potentially serve as a replacement for a few of Gulf Air’s current A340-300s.

It is unclear whether the aircraft will be “wet leased” i.e. along with the crew, as in the case of Turkish THY, or a “dry” aircraft only lease.

Jet Airways has seven Boeing 777-300ERs and nine Airbus A330-200s left in its fleet after the first round of leases to Gulf and THY. After this Gulf Air deal, it will have only three 777s left in its fleet. That will surely require some more route and capacity rationalisation by Jet on its existing international operations. Talks with Oman Air for lease of Jet Airways aircraft, are also expected to fructify very soon, and passengers in India can expect to bid adieu to Jet Airways from the international skies.

In a repeat of THY, Gulf Air’s premium passengers are in for a treat, as Jet’s product includes fully flat beds in business class and private suites in first. (View a photo gallery of the premium classes)

After years of watching its rivals Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, expand their fleets with superior cabin aircraft, which forced a further contraction at Gulf Air, the airline will now be able to mount a serious challenge.

In addition to the Bahrain – London Heathrow route, Gulf Air is considering using the 777s on Bahrain – Bangkok and Bahrain – Kuala Lumpur routes. The 777s will also afford Gulf Air the possibility of serving the US east coast.

Incidentally, today is Makar Sankranti, a festival that signifies the beginning of the harvest season for the farmers of Indian Sub-Continent, and the only Hindu festival celebrated by the solar calendar. All other festivals are by the lunar calendar. Happy Sankranti to all Bangalore Aviation readers.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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