DALLAS — Kuwait flag carrier Kuwait Airways (KU) has said that it has progressed toward profitability as it reduced its losses by 50% in 2022, according to the airline’s chairman, Ali Al-Dukhan. The state-owned carrier has not profited in over 30 years since Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
At the airline’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Al-Dukan stated that the 2022 fiscal year that ended on December 31, 2022, was “one of the most successful years for KU due to achieving its desired objectives.” The carrier’s losses were down to 55 million dinars (US$178.6 million) in 2022, compared to 107 million dinars (US$347.2 million) in 2019. Kuwait Airways, which plans to break even in fiscal 2024, recorded an 11% increase in passenger revenue in 2022 to 289.1 million dinars (US$938.18 million), flying 3.5 million passengers.
Al-Dukan added, “The positive figures and results confirm the progress of the national carrier at a steady pace towards development and excellence. This is in addition to a significant leap in the technical, professional, and administrative fields, applying innovative work methods, investing in the human element, and creating an attractive environment for professional competencies. This has been done by taking into account the significance of applying the latest technologies and applications to achieve strategic objectives and profitability.”
In addition to the loss reduction, KU had “many achievements” in 2022, including an agreement with Airbus to restructure the carrier’s fleet, increasing its order from 28 to 31 aircraft. The Kuwaiti flag carrier has already received some of its new aircraft, with the remainder due to be received over the next few years. According to Airbus’ Orders & Deliveries filings for July 2023, KU has two Airbus A350-900s, nine A321neos, and seven A330-900 on order. Furthermore, it has extended leases for seven Airbus A320 aircraft for an additional year till 2024.
It has also been reported that the flag carrier has been looking to lease aircraft for over 12 years. In a new development, Kuwait Airways Chairman Al-Dukan confirmed that the airline will lease eight additional Airbus A321neo aircraft over the next decade. This is in addition to the airline’s multi-billion dollar deal with Airbus in 2022; the airline has already received 18 planes. The new aircraft will be a sign of relief for the airline, allowing the airline to continue its rapid expansion, as it currently does not have the capacity.
Although many airlines across the globe suffered from the pandemic, most Gulf airlines have seen a quick pickup in travel demand as the airlines are a vital part of the government’s drive to diversify their economies into sectors such as tourism. The Kuwaiti government, in particular, is using the airline to increase tourism in the Gulf nation, helped by route network growth.
Throughout 2022, the airline expanded its route network globally, launching ten new routes last year. These include Casablanca, Madrid, Manchester, Mykonos, Sarajevo, Izmir, Salalah, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur, and Kathmandu. The airline also played a major role in operating daily flights carrying fans to the 2022 World Cup in neighboring Qatar.
Furthermore, the airline announced earlier this week that it would begin service between Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Kuwait City International Airport (KWI) starting December 15. The flight will operate three times per week using an Airbus A330-800 aircraft. The 6,558-mile flight will be the longest route in the airline’s network and will be the longest route operated by an Airbus A330-800.
While KU continues to grow, it has large ambitions for the future, including acquiring 50 aircraft by 2030. However, this goal may be in jeopardy because of delays. Even though the airline is operating at a net loss, it hopes to return to profitability by 2025.
Featured image: Kuwait Airways Airbus A330-800neo (9K-APF). Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways.