Will Gulf Air Restructure Impact Airbus or Boeing?

Changes in plane orders may risk Airbus A330s more than Boeing 787s.
COMMENT, Business Trends


If Gulf Air decides to enact a plan to swap some of its widebody orders for smaller jets, the A330 is more at risk of being swapped than is the 787.

Gulf Air’s deliveries of its 787s don’t commence until 2016 and even that is based on the assumption that Boeing is able to stick to its present delivery schedule. The more stable production system over at Airbus and its A330 is a little more worrying.

Gulf Air takes delivery of its first A330-300 in 2012 and if the carrier aims to change orders, it is more likely to be these that bear the brunt of any amendment since the acquisition costs of the A330 can be traded in against A320s, a sizeable number of which the airline already operates.

It makes no sense to drop the 787 orders, partly because deliveries are still more than a half decade away and Gulf Air is unlikely to swap for 737s and induct a new subfleet and saddle itself with a string of crew and maintenance related costs in doing so.

Gulf Air has had a turbulent few years, and with the prospect of being jettisoned by the Bahraini Government investment arm Mumtalakat, the focus for regional expansion as opposed to international growth has centred management’s eyes on pushing down costs through shorter routes and building up frequencies.

All in all, any order changes will avoid cancellations and that will be the saving grace for either Airbus or Boeing.

Gulf Air’s path to re-establishing itself as a major Arabian airline has been painfully slow and to catch up its rivals while its financial position remains overtly precarious would be a risky strategy. It makes sense that the carrier wants to cut its costly exposure to higher priced widebodies and wants to conserve cash howsoever possible.

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