Monday, April 6, 2009

Wataniya Airways considering Indian operations by 2011

Wataniya Airways, Kuwait’s first premium full service airline is considering Indian operations by 2011. During the launch of the airline in January 2009, it showed keen interest in flying to destinations like London, Frankfurt, Paris, Philippines (Manila) and Thailand (Bangkok); but had not shown any desire to start flights to India. However, in a recent development, an official source disclosed that the airline is currently monitoring various routes in India and by the end of this year or early next year will decide on the time line for commencing Indian operations.

The airline is first aiming to fly short-haul destinations (Gulf and wider Middle East) and later, in the second phase will start long-haul operations. Currently, the airline is awaiting the delivery of more A320 aircraft to expand its operations.

“The airline is receiving acceptable load factors at the moment. India is one of the most important markets for Middle East carriers considering business and religious traffic. The airline is considering entering the South Indian market first and later metro cities like flights to Mumbai or Delhi. But scheduled time line for starting Indian operations is still under consideration,” said the source. However, the source declined to disclose the names of South Indian cities being considered by the airline.

With a capital of USD 190 million, Wataniya Airways is a privately-owned airline. It is currently operating flights on short-haul destinations from Kuwait to Bahrain, Beirut, Dubai and Cairo and will soon fly to Mashadd. It operates two A320 aircraft, while three more A320s will be leased through Netherlands-based AerCap Holdings in 2010. The airline is aiming to operate at least 12 aircraft (including wide bodies) by 2012. The airline recently entered into a multi-year outsourcing contract with India-based Kale Consultants Ltd. for outsourcing revenue accounting and passenger audit services.