MANAMA: Gulf Air’s first Airbus A320neo received a water canon salute as it taxied to the terminal at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) yesterday.
The aircraft, delivered from the manufacturer’s factory in Toulouse, France, will fly to a number of regional routes within the Gulf Air network.
The aircraft is the first out of 12 A320neo aircraft ordered during the 2016 Bahrain International Airshow and makes Gulf Air the first national carrier to fly the A320neo in the Middle East and Africa region.
“History is repeating itself, as we were the first in the region to receive the A320 aircraft in 1992,” said Gulf Air chief executive Kresimir Kucko.
“We have a strong network in the region with multiple daily flights to 10 regional cities and the addition of the A320neo into our fleet will strengthen our position in the market.”
Gulf Air’s A320neo, which stands for new engine option, is the most advanced A320 version and features the widest single aisle cabin in the market.
The aircraft is also equipped with LEAP-1A engines from CFM International along with large wing tip devices known as Sharklets, which combined deliver 15 per cent fuel burn reduction per seat.
The aircraft is also eco-friendly producing 5,000 tonnes less CO2 emission per year per aircraft along with nearly 50pc reduction in the noise footprint when compared to the previous generation aircraft.
“A peak travel period is upon us and I feel glad to receive this aircraft right before Eid break as people travel for holiday,” said Gulf Air deputy CEO Captain Waleed Alalawi.
Earlier this year, Gulf Air received three Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft as it continues its major fleet development project which aims to see a total of 39 new aircraft by the end of 2023 – 10 Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner, 12 Airbus A320neo and 17 Airbus A321neo aircraft.
According to an official statement, Gulf Air’s network will serve 49 cities in 26 in 2018.