The unveiling of Kuwait Airways’ new livery on a Boeing 777 in October was just the physical manifestation of a major change in the Arab carrier’s future course, CCO Philip Saunders said Nov. 7 on the sidelines of the World Travel Market exhibition in London.
The new color scheme, which updates the airline’s stylized bird emblem, was unveiled as the airline took delivery of one of a wave of new aircraft that is rapidly refreshing the older fleet.
“I would argue we’ve been working on a new strategic direction for the past two years,” Saunders said.
The airline is widely accepted to have lagged badly behind its competitors—particularly the Big Three Gulf carriers—in terms of both its hard and soft product for some years.
However, Saunders said, initial success in the struggle to make the airline relevant in its home market once again could be seen in passenger figures, which had risen from 2 million in 2013 to 2.9 million last year.
“That’s only going to continue to grow,” Saunders said, but the stress was on creating “sensible and sustainable” growth. Kuwait’s other airline, hybrid carrier Jazeera Airways, has talked of overcapacity flooding the Kuwaiti market, but there was space in the market for Kuwait Airways to proceed with cautious, manageable growth, he said.
“The key objective is to grow our presence in our home market,” Saunders said. Kuwait Airways’ share of passengers at its home hub has dropped close to 20% in recent years. CEO Abdullah Al Sharhan said at the January 2016 Bahrain International Airshow that he hoped to expand this to 40%-45%.
In pursuit of increasing its attraction to passengers flying from its home hub, additional frequencies were being introduced to regional destinations, Saunders said, to ensure that, wherever possible, passengers could make a return flight in the course of a day.
Kuwait Airways’ plans include a substantial improvement for inflight service, including state-of-the-art inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi systems. A new reservations system is also scheduled to be introduced by the middle of 2017, together with better processing of passengers at Kuwait International Airport.