Gulf Air announced Thursday that it will convert its current fleet of 16 787-8 twin-aisle planes to the 787-9 model, which will allow them to carry more passengers and cargo.
The replacement model is 20 feet longer, allowing for 20 percent more passengers and up to 23 percent more cargo, airline officials said. The upgrade will cost $4.2 billion, a cost of $262.5 million per plane.
"I am delighted that we have arrived at mutually agreeable solutions with Boeing and can now successfully restructure our order to this larger and longer-range model of the 787s," Gulf Air Acting CEO Maher Al Musallam said. "This restructured order more effectively meets Gulf Air's future fleet requirement and our network expansion plans. As a result, I now look forward to furthering Gulf Air's fleet modernization process while supporting our network and overall passenger experience enhancement strategies."
Boeing officials said orders for the model continue to grow, with more than 1,100 orders placed from 60 customers worldwide. In addition to added carrying capacity, the 787-9 uses 20 percent less fuel and expels 20 percent less emissions than the 787-8.
"As Gulf Air modernizes and expands its operations, Boeing is proud that the 787 Dreamliner will be an integral part of the airline's fleet strategy and the flagship for its long-haul, international operations," Marty Bentrott, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' VP of sales for Middle East, Russia and Central Asia, said. "The industry-leading efficiencies of the 787 family will provide Gulf Air with superior fuel conservation, reliability and passenger comfort, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership."
Gulf Air is a Bahrain-based airline offering service to 43 cities in 24 countries, with a fleet of 28 planes.