Bahrain based Gulf Air has confirmed an agreement to lease four new Boeing 777-300ERs (B77W in industry parlance) from Jet Airways of India. The agreement which was signed on February 22nd, calls for three aircraft to join its fleet in March, and the fourth in May.
This deal was expected since January. Gulf Air is already wet-leasing two Airbus A330-200s from Jet on a temporary basis. Gulf Air was looking to replace its A340-300s with larger capacity B77Ws. Jet Airways has been actively leasing out most of its 11 award winning, uber-luxurious Boeing 777-300ERs in a desperate bid to stem the losses bleeding the airline.
Jet Airways has already leased out four B77Ws to Turkish THY Airlines, and with these four to Gulf Air, it will be left with just three aircraft in its fleet. Since Jet Airways sources confirmed to me they will operate four aircraft, two on the Mumbai London Heathrow route and one on the Delhi London Heathrow route, and one aircraft to be kept in the rotation, I can surmise that one more aircraft is expected to join the Jet fleet.
Jet Airways recently firmed up a deal to lease two A330-200s to Oman Air.
With an award winning cabin product like First Class suites, and herring-bone lie flat business class, these B77Ws will give Gulf Air an immediate product which can compete head-on with neighbours Emirates and Etihad in the luxury category. Gulf Air has indicated these aircraft will be used for services to several destinations such as London Heathrow, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur as well as within the Middle East.
Jet officials claim the four 777-300ERs will be leased to Gulf Air for 42 months. The reports say the aircraft will be on wet-lease for the first six months, after which they will revert to dry leases. I only hope that Gulf Air looks after the aircraft well, a reputation which Turkish THY Airlines sadly lacks.