Jazeera Airways continues to fester; no new routes in the last 12 months or any planned

Jazeera Airways

On 2 May last year, Jazeera Airways moved its thrice-weekly service from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen to Istanbul Atatürk – the last ‘new’ route the Kuwait-based LCC started. Nothing has been launched since and no new routes are currently planned to start this year or next – is this the least-dynamic LCC in the world, or just an airline hampered in its growth by its geographical location?

Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways launched flights in October 2005, and now seems to be flat-lining despite having had its fair share of ups and downs. After growing rapidly and establishing bases at Kuwait International Airport and Dubai, the airline closed the latter in May 2009, just prior to the launch of flydubai in June 2009. Since then, it has reduced its fleet from a peak of 11 aircraft to a current fleet of just seven A320s ‒ the newest of which was delivered in May last year (according to planespotters.net). For the last five years, the airline’s ASKs have remained remarkably unchanged, varying between a peak of 2.13 billion (2012) and a low of 2.04 billion (2015).

Chart - Jazeera Airways 2006-2015 ASKs (billions) and year-on-year growth

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

The LCC currently offers a network of 14 destinations from Kuwait City across the Middle East. This is just over half the amount of network points served at the airline’s peak of operation in 2009, when it flew to 27 destinations, including Delhi and Mumbai in India. Despite the hacking of the schedules since then, of those city pairs flown in 2009 many still remain a feature of Jazeera’s network – Alexandria, Amman, Bahrain, Beirut, Dubai, Jeddah, Luxor, Mashhad, Riyadh and Sharm el Sheikh.

Looking at the airline’s website it says that flights are available to 19 destinations in 11 countries. However, when you try and book flights to Syria – where it used to serve Aleppo, Damascus and Deir Ezzor ‒ you receive a message that says: “All flights suspended until further notice”. A similar thing happened when our data elves tried to book a flight to Najaf in Iraq and to Assuit in Egypt, however this time the message was: “Sorry, no flights available. Please select another date or station and try again.” Presumably these destinations will come back on-line if and when the situation in those countries eases.

Cairo ousts Dubai from top spot

Since anna.aero last looked at the operations of Jazeera in April 2012, the airline’s #1 destination of Dubai has been replaced by Cairo, a destination that did not even feature in the LCC’s network at its peak in 2009. The demise of Dubai (DXB) may well have been partially as a result of the airline launching twice-weekly operations to Dubai Al Maktoum (DWC) in October 2013, a weekly frequency that it still offers in July 2015. The secondary airport in Dubai, along with Istanbul Atatürk, which was switched to from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen in May 2014, are the only two airport pairs available today which were not served in the April 2012 network.

Chart - Jazeera Airways in Kuwait Top 10 destinations served and competitors (weekly frequencies)

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 10 July.

Naturally, Jazeera’s main source of competition is national carrier Kuwait Airways, which competes on nine out of the top 10 routes. The most competitive city pair that Jazeera flies on is Dubai, where Emirates offers 50 weekly frequencies (38%), flydubai operates 53 weekly rotations (40%), in addition to Kuwait Airways’ double-daily service (11%). However, when it comes to weekly seats being sold, Emirates has a clear superiority (52%), almost double of that flown by flydubai (28%), and around five times more than Kuwait Airways (11%) and Jazeera (7.8%).

Syria and Iraq lost

Since anna.aero last reviewed Jazeera’s operations in 2012, the number of country markets offered by the LCC has reduced from 11 to the nine flown today (including Kuwait itself), with Syria and Iraq being currently suspended as previously mentioned. The airline’s geographical footprint has been greatly reduced in comparison to its peak operations in 2009, when it flew to 14 country markets, with Cyprus, India, Oman, Qatar and Yemen then on the network map (services to Iraq were not operated in 2009).

Chart -Jazeera Airways country markets Weekly seats

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 10 July.

The country market which has witnessed the greatest reduction in weekly seats since 2012 is Bahrain, falling by 60%, and is followed by the UAE which has dropped by 36%. On the flip-side, Saudi Arabia has grown by 20% in that time, seeing it leapfrog both Lebanon and Jordan (both dropping by -9.1%) into third spot. However, the biggest growth has been reserved for Turkey, which has increased from 477 weekly seats in S12 to 795 in S15, a 67% rise. Clearly, the country markets of Turkey and Saudi Arabia (both have been highlighted in light green) are seen as safe bets for capacity growth in this troubled region. Hopefully market conditions in the Middle East will improve soon and Jazeera will emerge from its route development torpor.


  1. Arthur Dent says:

    Jazeera may not be the world’s most exciting airline for network planning, but two of its previous CEOs are now in charge of airberlin (Stefan Pichler) and HK Express (Andrew Cowen).

  2. MLR says:

    I think it’s totally unfair to say that Jazeera is “festering”.

    Yes the route development is slow at the moment, but rapid expansion / revenue growth is not the priority in this industry. Any fool can add new routes. What’s tricky is making money on your routes, and by all accounts Jazeera does that very well.

    • Marc Watkins says:

      Hi Martin – you’re right…making money is important. However, that said, here at anna.aero we are the champions of new route development…so in that regard Jazeera is less than dynamic.

  3. Thirstyforeigner says:

    Jazeera launched at a great time for new LCCs. The region knew very little about Low-Cost travel; the majority of the passengers consisted of labour traffic from Egypt and India – this traffic captured very easily by lower fares and leads to the promotion of VFR traffic. J9 identified quickly that they were limited by market size and moved to a ‘virtual’ base at DXB utilizing 5th+ freedoms only to be kicked out for showing the opportunity… The owner is a shrewd business man and imho focused on taking over KAC rather than flying further afield on narrow bodies. Timing will be the issue.

  4. enplaned says:

    “Fester” is an unfortunate choice of word. It implies decay, infection, etc. Unless you can demonstrate that, your choice of words was inaccurate as well as unkind.

    “Languish” might have been a bit more kind.

    Or, even better, “Jazeera growth on hold” — “Jazeera stuck in neutral” — these might have been more accurate, and accuracy is what your readers (at least this one) want.

    • Marc Watkins says:

      The implication was that the network has seemingly been left unattended…with no development in the last 12 months…apart from swapping airports in Istanbul…and none planned. We also mention cobwebs and seeing if anyone is at home…

  5. Stephen says:

    “Fester??” Sores, ulcers, and infected wounds literally fester, and feelings of hate, jealousy, or envy fester figuratively. In fact, most definitions of fester imply growth–of bacterial colonies, for a literal example, or of hatred, for a figurative example–and the lack of growth was the main point of your article.

  6. SAM says:

    I think this is an interesting analysis on capacity but have you looked at the company’s profitability? Have you seen the profit margins this tiny airline is capable of achieving while operating in a region that is increasing capacity at an unbelievable pace? A more comprehensive look at Jazeera will show that capacity is being managed prudently to maximize profitability…the real metric for success.

    • Marc Watkins says:

      Obviously profitability is the real benchmark of true success in an industry infamously known for company failures and racking up huge debts. However, we typically concentrate on route development that’s why we are called anna.aero – Airline Network News and Analysis…

  7. Bob says:

    With respect to the website and the author, the report is both shallow and inaccurate. In regards to growth, Jazeera Airways has been registering double digit growth in Net Profit every year since 2011. That’s net profit, not revenues, or operational profits. Last the year the company was selected as one of the top 15 companies listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, the company is based in Kuwait. As for Assiut, the route reopened earlier this week and it was stopped for a year because the airport was closed for renovation. There are so many inadequacies in this story. Isn’t the real story how can an a tiny airline like Jazeera grow net profits year after year without growing its network, without investments, without hedging and trading currency etc etc profits through core operations….i think that s the case study here.

    • Marc Watkins says:

      As I have already said Bob…our website deals with route development – 100%. That’s our reason for being…and that is why our stories focus on that element of an airline’s strategy…whether it is Jazeera, Emirates or Ryanair we are writing about…
      I congratulate Jazeera on making all that money, I really do…but our focus will always be on new routes!!

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