Kuwait Airways has recently expanded its long-haul fleet by taking delivery of two more Airbus A330-800s. At the same time, the airline has grown its long-haul network by opening a new route between Kuwait and Kuala Lumpur, with more to come. Kuwait Airways’ additional A330-800s prepare it for growth.
Called “Al Jaboot” and “Al Shuwai”, the two A330-800s were delivered from Toulouse on September 29. They are the second batch of -800s to join Kuwait Airways, which received the first two A330neo’s on October 28, 2020 (main picture). Interestingly, these two aircraft have been parked for a few months, with one operating its last service on July 5 and the other on August 4 to Istanbul and Jeddah.
Yet, inducting the additional A330-800s will allow Kuwait Airways to expand its network. On the occasion of the delivery of the latest two aircraft, Chairman Ali Mohammad Al-Dukhan said that the two aircraft “will contribute to the operational capacity and the growing passenger accessibility to new, as well as medium and long-haul destinations as Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu, Istanbul, Sabiha, and Hyderabad. This would further benefit the company in achieving the anticipated objectives pursued by the Blue Bird, as part of its strategic objectives to develop its ability to link Kuwait to the world.” Services to the Maldives will launch in the coming months.
The new service to Malaysia was launched on October 2 but is operated by Kuwait’s Boeing 777-300ERs, although the airline said it would use the A330-200. The A330-800 will likely be positioned on this route in the near future as well. For now, Kuala Lumpur is offered only twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays, but in November this will be upgraded to three weekly services on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Numerous order changes
Almost four years to the day this week on October 15, 2018, Kuwait Airways placed an order for eight A330-800s. This already was an amendment of a 2014 order that included ten A350-900s and fifteen A320neo family aircraft. In 2018, the carrier reduced the number of A350s to five and instead selected the A330-800, while keeping the A320neo’s in the book. The first A320neo joined Kuwait in September 2019. The seventh aircraft will be delivered in mid-October, which is the third delivery this year.
The 2018 order was restructured again in February this year after four months of intense negotiations. This came on the back of two difficult years dominated by the Covid-crisis. Al-Dukhan said back then that the order was restructured to give the airline more flexibility. The number of A330-800s was reduced to four, which have now all been delivered. But Kuwait Airways added the A330-900 to its backlog with an order for seven. These aircraft are due in 2024 through 2026 and will get a new Business Class product. Meanwhile, the A350-900 order was further reduced to two, which “will be received tentatively” without specifying further.
From 2024, Kuwait expects to take delivery of the first of nine A321neo’s and A321LRs, which will further strengthen the bond between Airbus and the airline. Al-Dukhan said in September that this relationship now extends to over four decades when Kuwait Airways operated its first A300-B4 in 1983. “Airbus has significantly contributed to Kuwait Airways’ fleet development, offering us modern and diverse aircraft with technological advancements that are in line with the latest in the aviation industry.”
Kuwait’s ten 777-300ERs are on average 5.6 years old and are the only Boeing aircraft remaining in the fleet. The airline used to operate a single 737-200, five 747-200s and -400s, and three 767-200s.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.