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Kuwait Airways

Kuwait Airways
الخطوط الجوية الكويتية
Al-Khutout Al-Jawwiya Al-Kuwaitiyah
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1953 (1953) (as Kuwait National Airways)
Commenced operations 16 March 1954 (1954-03-16)
Hubs Kuwait International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Oasis Club
Airport lounge Dasman Lounge (Kuwait International Airport)
Fleet size 23
Destinations 34
Company slogan Earning Your Trust
Headquarters Al Farwaniyah Governorate, Kuwait
Key people Rasha Abdulaziz Al-Roumi (Chairwoman)
Website .com.kuwaitairwayswww

Kuwait Airways (Arab Air Carriers Organization.


  • History 1
  • Corporate affairs and identity 2
    • Ownership 2.1
      • Privatisation plans 2.1.1
    • Key people 2.2
    • Headquarters 2.3
    • Subsidiaries and alliances 2.4
  • Destinations 3
    • Codeshare agreements 3.1
  • Fleet 4
    • Recent developments 4.1
    • Current 4.2
  • Incidents and accidents 5
    • Hijackings in the 1980s 5.1
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The carrier traces its history back to 1953,[nb 1] when Kuwait National Airways was formed by a group of Kuwaiti businessmen; initially, the government took a 50% interest.[3]:211[4] That year, a five-year management contract was signed with British International Airlines (BIA),[5] a BOAC subsidiary in Kuwait that operated charter flights and provided maintenance services.[4][6] Two Dakotas were bought,[3]:211 and operations started on 16 March 1954 (1954-03-16).[2] The carrier transported 8,966 passengers in its first year of operations.[7] In July 1955 (1955-07), the name Kuwait Airways was adopted.[8][nb 2] In May 1958 (1958-05),[2] a new contract for management and operation was signed, directly with BOAC this time.[9] BIA was taken over by Kuwait Airways in April 1959 (1959-04).[2][nb 3]

Kuwait National Airways Douglas DC-3 in 1955

On 8 August 1962,[3]:210 Kuwait Airways became the first foreign customer in ordering the Trident when two aircraft of the type were acquired, and an option for a third was taken. The deal was valued at £5.5 million, and also included a Comet 4C. At the same time, the carrier had also a £3 million order in place for three BAC One-Elevens, with an option for a fourth.[10]:221 The airline took delivery of the first Comet of its own in January 1963 (1963-01),[11][12] but Comet operations had started in July the previous year with an aircraft on lease from MEA.[13]:225 In August 1963 (1963-08), a second Comet was ordered.[14][15] The delivery of this second airframe established an unofficial record in early 1964, when it flew between London and Kuwait, a distance of 2,888 miles (4,648 km), at 461 miles per hour (742 km/h) on average.[16] On 1 June 1963, the government increased its participation in the airline to 100%.[17] In March 1964 (1964-03), the carrier added its first European destination to the route network when flights to London were inaugurated using Comet equipment; from that time, services between London and some points in the Middle East, including Abadan, Bahrain, Beirut, Dhahran, Doha and Kuwait, started being operated in a pool agreement between the carrier and BOAC and MEA.[18][19] A month later, the airline absorbed Trans Arabia Airways.[20]:855[21]

A Kuwait Airways Boeing 707-320C on the approach to London Heathrow Airport in 1978. Three aircraft of the type were ordered in November 1967 (1967-11).[22]

At April 1965 (1965-04), the route network had expanded to include Abadan, Baghdad, Bahrain, Beirut, Bombay, Cairo, Damascus, Doha, Frankfurt, Geneva, Jerusalem, Karachi, London, Paris and Teheran. At this time, the fleet was comprised two Comet 4Cs, three DC-6Bs, two Twin Pioneers and three Viscount 700s; the carrier had two Trident 1Es and three One-Elevens pending delivery.[17] The first Trident was handed over by the aircraft manufacturer in March 1966 (1966-03),[23] and the second followed in May the same year.[24] In the interim, a third aircraft of the type was ordered.[24] On the other hand, the One-Elevens were never delivered: in January 1966 (1966-01) the carrier stated that the simultaneous introduction of both types of aircraft was not possible due to a tightened budget, and postponed their delivery;[25] it was informed late that year that the airline would not take them.[26][nb 4] Three Boeing 707-320Cs were ordered in November 1967 (1967-11).[22] The carrier made its first profit ever in 1968, with a net income of £910,000.[28]

During 1972, Kuwait Airways' fifth consecutive profitable year, the airline had a net profit of £2.9 million. By May 1973 (1973-05), the fleet had reduced to five Boeing 707-320C aircraft.[28] That year, flights to Colombo were launched.[29] At March 1975 (1975-03), Faisal Saud Al-Fulaij, who employed 1,800, was the chairman of the corporation.[30] In a deal worth US$14 million, two additional ex-Pan American Boeing 707-320Cs were subsequently purchased that year, with the first one entering the fleet in May.[31] The carrier ordered its first Boeing 737 that year, slated for delivery in February 1976 (1976-02).[32] Kuwait Airways became Boeing 727‍‍ '​‍s 96th worldwide customer in 1979, when it ordered three of these aircraft for delivery in late 1980 and early 1981.[33]

A Kuwait Airways Airbus A310-300 approaches Prague Ruzyne Airport in 2004

By July 1980 (1980-07), chairmanship was held by Ghassan Al-Nissef, the number of employees had grown to 5,400 and the fleet comprised eight Boeing 707-320Cs, one Boeing 737-200, three Boeing 747-200Bs and one JetStar; three Boeing 727-200s were pending delivery.[34] In mid-1980, six Airbus A310-200s were ordered to replace the Boeing 707s on routes to Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with deliveries starting in 1983;[35] five more A310 aircraft were added to the order late that year.[36]

After India‍‍ '​‍s air market was deregulated in 1992, Kuwait Airways and Gulf Air participated in the formation of Jet Airways, each holding a 20% equity stake,[37] with a total investment estimated in US$8 million.[38] Following the enactment of a law that banned the investment of foreign carriers in domestic Indian operators, both airlines had to divest their shareholding in the Indian company.[39] Kuwait Airways' 20% stake in Jet Airways was sold to chairman Naresh Goyal for US$4 million.[40][41] In December 1998 a code-share agreement was signed with Trans World Airlines to begin in the Spring of 1999. [1]

In October 2007, the new CEO pledged that the airline should be privatised in order for it to compete efficiently against other airlines. He says that the airline will encounter difficulty in advancing, especially in fleet renewal, without the privatisation.[42]

Flights to Iraq were resumed in November 2013 (2013-11); Kuwait Airways had discontinued services to the country in 1990 following the invasion of Kuwait.[43] After a 17-year hiatus, the carrier resumed flying to Munich in July 2015 (2015-07).[44][45] Also this month, the airline restarted flights to Istanbul-Atatürk; the city had not been served for three years.[45] Bangalore was added to the carrier‍‍ '​‍s network in October 2015 (2015-10).[46]

Corporate affairs and identity


Kuwait Airways is completely owned by the government of Kuwait, as of December 2013.[47]

Privatisation plans

Privatisation started being considered in the mid-1990s, in a period that followed the Gulf War when the carrier experienced a heavy loss on its assets.[48] The company was turned into a corporation in 2004.[49] A draft decree for its privatisation was approved by the government on 21 July 2008. Plans were to sell up to 35% of the stake to a long-term investor and another 40% allotted to the public, whereas the government would hold the remaining 25%. These plans also contemplated the exclusion of domestic carrier competitors, such as Jazeera Airways, as potential bidders. Furthermore, the government also committed to keep the workforce invariant for at least five years and those who were not to be retained would be offered the opportunity to be transferred to other government dependencies without altering their salaries and holding similar working conditions.[48]

In 2011, the privatisation committee valued the carrier at US$805 million, following advice by the

  • Official website

External links

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  63. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 14–20 March 1990. 100. Archived 18 May at WebCite
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  94. ^  Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  95. ^ a b Why another stall spells bad news for Kuwait Airways
  96. ^ Video showing interior layout of Kuwait 747–400
  97. ^ 1988: Hijackers free 25 hostages Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  98. ^ BBC News Archived 15 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine


  1. ^ Also mentioned to have been formed in March 1954 (1954-03).[2]
  2. ^ Renaming has also been reported to take place in March 1957 (1957-03).[2]
  3. ^ Also reported to have been taken over by Kuwait Airways in September the same year.[6]
  4. ^ These aircraft were leased to British Eagle.[27]:812
  5. ^ a b Seven aircraft of the type initially on order. four already delivered, making three aircraft still on order.[89]


See also

In April 1988 a Kuwait Airways Boeing 747 was hijacked and diverted to Algiers while on its way to Kuwait from Bangkok. The hijacking lasted 16 days and ended with a Kuwaiti firefighter being killed along with another Kuwaiti military person. This occurred when the plane stopped in Cyprus for two or three days, where the government of Cyprus was not able to save the two persons killed. Then it moved to Algeria where the hijacker's demands were satisfied and where the 110 remaining passengers were released.

There was a hijacking on the ground in Beirut in 1982, captained by Les Bradley en route to Kuwait from Tripoli via Beirut, this is referenced in Robin Wrights book 'Sacred Rage'. There was a long hijack involving the Iranian Captain of a 747 at a similar time, lasting more than a week.

During the Iran–Iraq War, Kuwait Airways was the target of several hijackings.[98] One was at London, England to Karachi, Pakistan flight on 1 December 1984. The flight took off from London-Heathrow making a stop-over in Kuwait before continuing the journey to the final destination in Karachi, Pakistan. During the second part of the flight, two Lebanese Shi'a gunmen diverted the plane to Tehran. The hijackers were armed with guns and explosives and there was gunfire on the plane while it was in flight. The hijackers wanted to take the plane to Lebanon and negotiated the re-fuelling in exchange for all the women and children on the flight. The stand-off took six days but finally Iranian security officers dressed as staff overpowered the hijackers.

Hijackings in the 1980s

  • During 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait,10 planes belonging to Kuwait Airways were allegedly stolen and taken to the grounds of Baghdad International Airport and from there they were stored at Mosul International Airport in Iraq. Fearing an air strike in Iraq, Saddam Hussein sent these planes to Iran. Out of 10 planes, 4 were destroyed and 6 were returned to Kuwait Airways by the Iranians in 1992.
  • On 5 April 1988, Kuwait Airways Flight 422 was hijacked from Bangkok to Kuwait with 111 passengers and crew aboard. Three members of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. Six or seven Lebanon men, including Hassan Izz-Al-Din, a veteran of the TWA 847 hijacking armed with guns and hand grenades forced the pilot to land in Mashhad, Iran and demanded the release of 17 Shiite Muslims guerrillas held in Kuwait. Lasting 16 days and travelling 3,200-miles from Mashhad in northeastern Iran to Larnaca, Cyprus, and finally to Algiers, it is the longest skyjacking to date. Two passengers, Abdullah Khalidi, 25, and Khalid Ayoub Bandar, 20, both Kuwaitis, were shot to death by the hijackers and dumped on the tarmac in Cyprus. Kuwait did not release the 17 prisoners, and the hijackers were allowed to leave Algiers.[97]
  • On 3 December 1984, a Kuwait Airways flight from Kuwait City to Karachi, Pakistan, was hijacked by four Lebanese Shi'a hijackers and diverted to Tehran. The hijackers demand was the release of the Kuwait 17, which was not met. During the course of the stand-off women, children and Muslims were released and two American officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Charles Hegna and William Stanford, were shot dead and dumped on the tarmac. The few dozen passengers left on board, particularly Americans were threatened and tortured. "Every five minutes there was a frightening incident. There was no letup at all," British flight engineer Neil Beeston told the BBC.Paradoxically the hijackers released a statement claiming "We do not have any enmity toward anyone and we do not intend to deny the freedom of anyone or to frighten anyone..." On the sixth day of the drama, Iranian security forces stormed the plane and released the remaining hostages. Authorities said they would be brought to trial, but the hijackers were released and allowed to leave the country. Some passengers and officials suggested complicity by Iran in the hijacking and that the hostage rescue had been staged. One Kuwaiti and two Pakistani passengers claimed that the hijackers received additional weapons and equipment once the plane had landed, including handcuffs and nylon ropes used to tie passengers to their seats.[33] One American official wondered if the surrender was not preplanned: "You do not invite cleaners aboard an aeroplane after you have planted explosives, promised to blow up the plane, and read your last will and testament." The U.S. State Department announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of those involved in the hijacking, but made no military response. Later press reports linked Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyah to the hijackings.
  • Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait, 30 June 1966, Hawker Siddeley Trident 1E registration 9K-ACG touched down 3 miles short of the runway. There were no fatalities but the aircraft was written off.

Incidents and accidents

In the 1990s when Kuwait Airways has ordered Boeing 747-400s, their second 747 aircraft was nearly complete when the airline cancelled the order. The order was then taken by Philippine Airlines and the aircraft was delivered in March 1996. The 747, registered as RP-C7475, was in service with Philippine Airlines until June 2014 and is the only aircraft in the Philippines-based flag carrier with Arabic signage in the cabin.

A single 747-400 Combi is also operated for the Amir of Kuwait[95] in full Kuwait Airways livery with 'State of Kuwait' decals, its main deck has First, Business and Economy classes seating 300 passengers,[95] while the upper deck is configured with a private office lounge and bedroom[96] it is frequently used for commercial operations by the airline as well.

Kuwait Airways operates aircraft for official State business. The fleet has a Kuwait Airways inspired livery with State of Kuwait titles, and is composed of one Airbus A300-600, one A310-300, one A319, one A320, two A340-500 and one Boeing 747-8BBJ.

Boeing 747-400M Amir of Kuwait's private aircraft in airline livery, taxis to the take off point at London Heathrow Airport, England. It is used commercially when required.

As of August 2015, the fleet includes the following aircraft:[93]

A Kuwait Airways Airbus A300B4-600R on short final to Frankfurt Airport in 2014.
A Kuwait Airways Airbus A320-200 at Dubai International Airport in 2014.


In October 2013 (2013-10), Kuwait Airways had one of the oldest aircraft parks in the Middle East, with an average age of 20 years.[71] That month, the carrier opened its maintenance facilities to the press for them to check that the fleet was kept in conditions,[72] amid rumours of deficiencies in their maintenance.[73] In December the same year, the carrier signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the acquisition of 15 A320neos and ten A350-900s.[74][75][76] These aircraft would be handed over between 2019 and 2022.[77] For the interim period, the deal includes the lease of seven A320s and five A330-200s from the aircraft manufacturer;[78] deliveries would start in late 2014.[77] In a deal valued at US$4.4 billion,[79] the order including ten A350-900s and 15 A320neos was confirmed in February 2014 (2014-02).[80][81] Kuwait Airways' intentions to purchase ten Boeing 777-300ERs were informed in November 2014 (2014-11).[82][83] The order was firmed up a month later for US$3.3 billion[84][85][86] with deliveries expected to start in 2016.[87] Also in December 2014 (2014-12), Kuwait Airways took delivery of its first sharketled Airbus A320 as part of the airline‍‍ '​‍s fleet renewal programme.[88] As of March 2015, Kuwait Airways received four leased aircraft of the type, marking the first fleet upgrade in 17 years.[89][90] Kuwait Airways became a new customer for the Airbus A330 when it received the first aircraft of the type in June 2015 (2015-06).[91][92]

In July 1996 (1996-07),[66] the carrier modified a previous order that included Boeing 747 aircraft,[67] and placed an order worth US$280 million for two Boeing 777-200s,[66] with purchase rights for another aircraft of the type.[68] The operation made Kuwait Airways the 22nd customer of the type worldwide.[66] The airframer handed over the first Boeing 777-200 in early 1998.[69][70]

A Kuwait Airways Airbus A340-300 takes off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2014. The carrier received the first aircraft of the type in March 1995 (1995-03).[65]

Recent developments


Codeshare agreements

From its hub at Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait Airways flies to 34 international destinations across Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East, as of November 2013.[64]


Kuwait Airways also went into alliances with several airlines to keep up with demand and to continue its operations during the 1990 War.

  • Kuwait Aviation Services Co. (KASCO)
  • Automated Systems Co. (ASC, شركة الأنظمـــــة الآلية,الأنظمة) GDS provider since 1989

Kuwait Airways has several subsidiaries that are going through a similar privatization process as KAC.

Subsidiaries and alliances

The Kuwait Airways headquarters is located on the grounds of Kuwait International Airport in Al Farwaniyah Governorate, Kuwait. The 42,000 square metres (450,000 sq ft) head office was built for 15.8 million Kuwaiti dinars (US $ 53.6 million). Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Co. served as the main contractor. The headquarter was constructed from 1992 to 1996. The construction of the head office was the first time that structural glazing for curtain walls was used in the State of Kuwait.[62] The previous headquarters was on the grounds of the airport.[63]


As of July 2015,[57] Rasha Abdulaziz Al-Roumi is the chairwoman.[58] She was appointed in December 2013 (2013-12).[58] The former chairman, Sami al-Nisf, had been suspended following the disclosure of plans for the acquisition of five used aircraft from Jet Airways.[59][60][61]

Key people

[56].(2013-01) The law for the privatisation of Kuwait Airways Corporation was passed in January 2013 [55] for the provision of consultation expertise.International Air Transport Association and the government signed a contract with the [54][53] The privatisation draft was amended[50] something that was approved by Kuwait‍‍ '​‍s Council of Ministers.[52]

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