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Business of…Kuwait Airways

With Kuwait Airways’ stake sale likely to be the first privatisation of a Gulf-owned carrier (if anyone actually shows interest), Kipp looks at what could have happened that has led the airline to its downward spiral.

August 4, 2011 11:50 by


The Kuwait Airways Company was formed in 1954 following the oil boom of the 1940’s. It initially only served a limited network of Abadan, Beirut, Damascus and Jerusalem. A year later, the carrier faced hardships and the government of Kuwait took a 50 percent interest in the airline, subsequently doubling the company’s capital. The government later took full control taking 100 percent shareholding.

In the 1960s, the national carrier rapidly expanded its route map, and scheduled services to London begun three times a week. In 1986, three Boeing 707s were delivered and ten years later the company had eight of them. In 1978, they took two B747-200s, adding a third the following year, extending its network to New York and Manila. A further four Boeing 727 were delivered in 1980-1981, eight Airbus A310 and Airbus A300-600 were delivered two years later, and in 1986 three Boeing 767-200ER aircraft joined the wide-body fleet.

The Iraqi invasion, however, saw the destruction of the carrier’s premises and 42 of its aircrafts. Soon after, the airline was relaunched with a fleet 20 aircrafts.

In October 2007, the new CEO pledges privatisation to better compete with other airlines. At the present Kuwait Airways has a fleet of 17 aircrafts and visits around 42 destinations.


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