Jazeera Airways: Taking off
Jazeera Airways, Kuwait’s first private airline, has placed a firm order for four A320 airplanes and taken options on four more, according to Airbus.
Jazeera, Kuwait’s new privately-owned airline, is set to launch services with two leased Airbus A320s, serving various destinations in the Middle East.
Deliveries of the ordered aircraft will start in October. Each A320 plane would seat 165 passengers in a single-class layout. The engines have not yet been chosen.
The no-frills airways is renting out the jets for for six to eight months, Jazeera’s vice-president of operations, Captain Adel Al Barjas, says.
When the two planes are returned in October 2005, Jazeera will receive the first two of four Airbus jets purchased; it will get the other two in October 2006.
Barjas said that Al Jazeera was also in talks to purchase four other Airbus planes and had the option to decide on that up to 2008.
Al Jazeera – which is introducing low-cost air transportation to the state – will be the first local competitor to indebted state airliner Kuwait Airways. Al Jazeera plans regional flights to Bahrain and Dubai and Middle Eastern routes to Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt at its onset. Its primary expansion plan for the next five years is to fly to more Gulf Arab and Middle Eastern states, and the Indian subcontinent, Barjas added.
The airliner has a capital of about KD10 million ($34 million), 70 per cent of which was publicly subscribed and the rest provided by Kuwait-based Boodai Group among other private investors. Al Jazeera’s low-budget services include ticket prices 50 per cent below regular market rates.
Barjas says flight frequency during the first year of operation will be about 30 flights per week and will increase gradually as the carrier acquires the rest of its fleet. It will start with an initial staff of 80 in the first year.
‘‘Some of the ways we will save money is by outsourcing much of our staff, such as maintenance and perhaps operations,’’ Barjas says. ‘‘Hopefully in the next five years we will have our own permanent staff.’’
Last year, the government of Kuwait moved to open up its airlines sector for competition by approving the establishment of private passenger and no-frills carriers, as well as air freight companies.
Al Jazeera, which does not have plans to introduce flights longer than three hours in order to preserve low-cost margins, will provide booking services online, at an airport office and through travel agencies.