Bahrain’s state-owned airline Gulf Air will lease two Embraer 170 aircraft under a three-year agreement.

The deal includes the provision to extend the lease by a further five years, says Samer Majali, Gulf Air’s chief executive.

The airline will take delivery of the first of the aircraft in February to begin operations in March.By focusing operations on narrow body and regional jets Majali sees potential savings in excess of 30 per cent. The E-170 aircraft will also allow the carrier to increase frequency of flights compared to wide body planes as the airline focuses on operating shorter routes.

Gulf Air is also assessing all regional jets on the market from companies such as Canada’s Bombardier, Airbus and Brazil’s Embraer.

“In the long term, we see the potential for up to 10 airplanes on a permanent basis,” says Majali.The carrier has sold two A340 aircraft in its fleet and is now in negotiations over other aircraft that are “surplus to requirements”, Majali says.

The airline also plans to operate at least double-daily services to all Middle East capital cities as part of its long-term strategy.