Kuwait Airways plans to grow its Airbus A321neo fleet in the next ten years by leasing another eight aircraft. These are additional to the aircraft the airline has on direct order with Airbus, which was restructured in early 2022. The revised fleet plan will result in a shift to more narrowbodies over widebodies.
Chairman Ali Al-Dukhan announced the news on Sunday during the airline’s Annual General Meeting, Reuters reported. In a media statement on the airline’s website, he added that the shift to more narrowbodies will increase the flexibility of movement and deployment. The additional A321neo’s will be inducted in the next ten years as Kuwait Airways renews the fleet and at the same time grows the number of aircraft to fifty.
In February 2022, Kuwait Airways revised its exisiting Airbus order and reduced the number of A320neo’s from fifteen to nine. It added six A321neo’s and three A321LRs to the backlog. The number of A330-800s was halved from eight to four, but the airline ordered seven A330-900s instead. The order for five A350-900s was reduced from five to two after it has already been cut back from ten to five in 2018. This adds up to 31 aircraft.
Kuwait Airways already operates eight A320neo’s, of which the most recent one was delivered in May. The fleet also includes seven A320ceo’s that are relatively young with an average age of just under nine years. Lease contracts for seven have been extended until 2024. The widebody fleet has three A330-200s and four Airbus A330-800s, plus ten Boeing 777-300ERs of which the first joined the airline in December 2016.
Reducing the number of types
Although the addition of the A321neo, -LR, A330-900, and A350 increases the number of sub-types, Al-Dukhan said that the fleet restructuring actually results in fewer types. “which would help in facilitating the movement of operations for pilots, engineers, and flight crew and save training expenses. In addition, the agreement will achieve an increase in passenger seat capacity and financial savings compared to the market value of approximately $173 million.”
Al-Dukhan confirmed during the AGM that 2022 has been a very successful year for Kuwait Airways. While still suffering from the after-effects of the pandemic, the airline reduced its net loss to KD 55 million from KD 107 million in 2021. The carrier plans to break even within three years. Total passenger revenues grew to KD 289.1 million, up from KD 178 million.
“Kuwait Airways achieved highly positive results than was expected in 2022, as total passenger revenues reached 289.1 million dinars, showing an increase of eleven percent, while the number of passengers reached 3.5 million, which is an increase of two percent. Kuwait Airways operated approximately 25.5 thousand flights, marking an increase of five percent with a load factor of 69.7 percent, which is an increase of two percent.”
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 and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.