KUWAIT - Kuwait National Airways said on Monday that it plans to start operations in January, becoming the third carrier in the Gulf state looking to tap into aviation traffic growth in the Middle East.
The carrier will operate under the brand name Wataniya Airways - 'wataniya' is Arabic for 'national' - and start with two Airbus A320 aircraft flying to destinations in the Gulf and wider Middle East, chief executive officer George Cooper told reporters. Its shares will be listed this year, he said. Traffic rights are still being negotiated.
The Gulf aviation industry is booming as surging economies spurred by record oil prices attract tourists, business people and workers to the world's largest oil-exporting region.
According to a report by the board, Wataniya initially plans to fly to the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah; Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut and Jordan's Amman.
In a second stage, the carrier aims to fly to London, Frankfurt and Paris, as well as the Philippines capital Manila, and Thailand's Bangkok.
The carrier wants to have at least 12 aircraft, including wide-body planes, by 2012. Wataniya wants to focus on business travellers by offering more space on its aircraft than rivals, with 122 seats on its A320s. - Reuters