Brunei-based startup GallopAir is mulling a soft launch using chartered Royal Brunei Airlines (BI, Bandar Seri Begawan) aircraft, according to an Aviation Week Network report. Using chartered aircraft in the short term would allow the airline to launch as soon as 2024.

CEO Cham Chi told the outlet that he wants to charter an A320-200N from the state-owned Royal Brunei while the startup awaits its air operator's certificate (AOC) and the delivery of the first of 30 aircraft on order from COMAC. He said that government officials in Bandar Seri Begawan had been supportive of the prospective airline but did not say if Royal Brunei was receptive to his plan.

ch-aviation has contacted Royal Brunei for comment.

Earlier this month, ch-aviation reported that Gallop Air was in the first stage of a five-stage process to acquire its AOC but hoped to progress to the second stage by the end of the year. Chi confirmed to AWN that it is still in the first stage. He also said the ARJ21-700 and C919 types on order needed to be certified by the local authorities and flagged potential challenges in finding enough flight crews certified to fly the Chinese-manufactured aircraft.

Earlier this year, Gallop Air signed a letter of intent to acquire thirty COMACs, including fifteen ARJ21-700s and fifteen C919s. Among the ARJ21 stock would be one aircraft modified to operate aeromedical retrievals and also, potentially, dedicated freighters. At this point, neither Gallop Air nor COMAC have said when aircraft deliveries will start.