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KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s national carrier plans to buy up to 21 new aircraft over the next two years after parliament yesterday passed a key bill transforming it into a commercial company, its chairman said.
“Initially we plan to replace the current old fleet of 17 aircraft. We look to purchase 20-21 new aircraft within the next two years, and the process will be gradual,” Sami Al Nasef said after the parliamentary session.
He said the airline is already discussing the purchase with manufacturers. Nasef, who was appointed chairman in November, told MPs during the debate that only 10-12 aircraft of the carrier’s ageing fleet were operational and the remainder were under “extended maintenance.”
Kuwait Airways has a fleet of 15 Airbus and two Boeing aircraft that were acquired about 20 years ago, but some of which have had technical problems over the past few years. Twenty-nine MPs, including cabinet ministers, voted for the bill to turn Kuwait Airways Corp into a shareholding company operating on commercial basis. Nine MPs rejected the bill and six more abstained.
Under the bill, initially issued by the Emir in October when parliament was dissolved, the government will pay all losses incurred by KAC and estimated by some MPs at more than $1.5bn. The aim of the new company is to restructure the airline and make it profitable before completely privatising it by inviting foreign or local investors to bid for 35 percent of the privatised company.