Kuwait Airways, the flag carrier for the State of Kuwait, are in the middle of a ‘refresh’ that has seen the airline shift its strategy, rebrand, introduce new aircraft into the fleet, and establish deals with other airline carriers. While the state-owned airline hasn’t generated a profit in around 25 years, Kuwait Airways is keen to attempt to compete with neighbouring Gulf carrier giants, the likes of Emirates and Qatar Airways, and wants to carry more international passenger traffic via Kuwait.
The airline has invested in technology, such as onboard WiFi, and it has boosted frequencies on routes with higher demand, while focused on its cabin interiors for its new aircraft.
As the airline push on with their ambitions of becoming profitable, Mr Yousef Al Jassim, board chairman of Kuwait Airways Company (KAC) has confirmed the airline “will sign a new contract with Airbus over the next two weeks” for the order of “modern aircraft” to join the Kuwait Airways fleet. Al Jassim also added that “all short-haul leased aircraft already in the Kuwait Airways fleet will be phased out.”
Sources in Kuwait have exclusively told me that “At least part of the new Kuwait Airways order of Airbus jets will be more of the A320neo family aircraft, in order to replace the leased A320 jets already in the fleet.”
Kuwait Airways’ Existing Airbus Order
It’s worth highlighting that Kuwait Airways has already ordered 25 Airbus aircraft, made up of ten A350-900 XWB’s and 15 A320neo Family aircraft as part of the airlines’ ongoing fleet renewal strategy. The order was firmed up in 2014, but deliveries to Kuwait are yet to begin, and should commence in early 2019.
However, it’s significant that Kuwait Airways Chairman has just announced the airline will be placing an Airbus order, despite already having an existing order of Airbus aircraft, of which none have been delivered.
For this reason, I am predicting that Kuwait Airways will soon announce changes to their existing Airbus order, including an expansion to the quantity of Airbus aircraft ordered, and more variation of aircraft, such as upgrading part of the A320neo order to the larger A321neo variant, or upgrading the A350-900 XWB order to the larger A350-1000 XWB.
Furthermore, I’m almost certain we’ll see Kuwait Airways swap part of its existing Airbus order for the A330neo, as a direct replacement for the airlines’ leased A330s.
Kuwait Airways is certainly in the market for larger aircraft, and the airline received its first Boeing 777-300 back in December 2016. The carrier is now operating ten of the type, and as a result of these aircraft joining the fleet, Kuwait Airways’ seat capacity for last year’s Summer season was up by nearly 34%.
Kuwait Airways’ regional flights will welcome larger aircraft too, given the need for significant capacity increases on key routes such as Jeddah and Doha. Dubai has also grown to become one of the airline’s largest routes in relation to available seats, and intra-GCC flights currently operated by Kuwait Airways’ Boeing 777-300’s are consistently full.
Larger aircraft such as the A350-1000 XWB will offer Kuwait Airways new potential for long-haul market destinations, and the entry-into-service by Gulf neighbour, and A350-1000 XWB launch customer, Qatar Airways, has been described by the CEO as ‘seamless’.
Legally, Kuwait has several options and alterations that they could make to their existing Airbus order, and we may even see the addition of orders for the A330neo.