Gulf Air aircraft order in question with Bombardier

The future for Gulf Air’s regional jet order has become murky in the past few days as a tender award, previously indicating the purchase of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft has changed.

The airline appears to be instead leasing regional jets from GECAS under a new tender revealed recently. In an April 2011, the Bahraini government tender board released a document which had an item that indicated a $328 million contract award to Bombardier for Gulf Air regional jets. However that now has been removed and replaced by a similar note, dated October 2011, indicating that GECAS will supply four regional jets as interim aircraft for the airline.

The aircraft to be supplied is not noted, but the document does note that the lease will be for three years. The award also carries a similar reference code as the earlier Bombardier purchase line item had.

Gulf Air is currently operating Embraer 170 aircraft leased from other leasing companies. Disclosure of the earlier Bombardier contract strongly suggested that Gulf Air had selected the CSeries over the Embraer E-Jet family to meet its long-term regional jet requirement, and an order confirmation had been expected during this week’s Bahrain air show.

Gulf Air announced yesterday that it had not scheduled any announcement at the show, nor was it planning to in the near future.

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