Now the good news: Wataniya Airways launches flights between Kuwait and Dubai; Bahrain and Beirut to follow in March

An historic moment as Wataniya’s first aircraft touches down at Kuwait’s Sheikh Saad Terminal from Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse. At the ribbon cutting ceremony: Abdul Salam Al Bahar, chairman, Wataniya; Fawa Al Farah, Directorate General of Civil Aviation; and George Cooper, CEO, Wataniya. The airline’s first commercial flight to Dubai started on Saturday.

Despite the many challenges currently facing the airline industry around the globe new airlines continue to take to the skies. The latest is Wataniya Airways of Kuwait (Wataniya means “national” in Arabic) which is aimed at the discerning business traveller and describes itself as a ‘premium’ airline. With just 122 seats in a two-class configuration in its first A320 (LCCs typically squeeze in 180 seats on the same aircraft) the airline is starting with just one route, to Dubai. First Class consists of 26 seats while Premium Economy has 96 seats and a generous 34-inch seat pitch.

Double-daily flights began on Monday and the airline’s passengers get the chance to use the Sheikh Saad Terminal at Kuwait Airport, formerly known as the Royal Terminal. Competition on the route is provided primarily by Emirates, Jazeera and Kuwait Airways. In early March a second aircraft will be added to the fleet and services to Beirut and Bahrain are expected to start on 8 March. A third aircraft will join the fleet later in the year.

Traffic up 14% in Kuwait in 2008

Last year Kuwait airport reported that passenger numbers were up by 14% to 7.23 million. Even in December traffic was up a robust 7% proving that economic difficulties are not affecting all of the world’s regions to the same extent. The leading airlines at Kuwait airport at present are:

Airline Frequency share Capacity share Number of routes
Kuwait Airways 30.7% 33.0% 33
Jazeera Airways 13.0% 11.4% 13
Emirates 4.6% 7.5% 1
Qatar Airways 5.0% 4.8% 1
Egyptair 3.6% 3.7% 5
Gulf Air 5.0% 3.6% 1
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 January 2009
Image: Wataniya Airways
Wataniya Airways’ A320 features the iconic Kuwait Towers on its tailfin. The aircraft comes equipped with just 122 seats in a two-class configuration. So far Dubai is the only route served though Bahrain and Beirut will be added in March.

Some 16% of airline seat capacity at Kuwait airport is allocated to the Dubai route, more than twice as much as the next routes to Bahrain and Doha. Beirut, one of Wataniya’s next routes is ranked fifth at the airport and is currently served daily by Jazeera Airways, Kuwait Airways and Middle East Airlines, and a thrice-weekly by Bahrain Air.



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