Jazeera Airways has some ambitious plans for the next few years. The Kuwaiti low-cost carrier will be launching flights to London Gatwick as soon as this autumn. This is according to an official who spoke to AIN, in a report that came out yesterday. This will be the first “low-cost link between the Gulf Cooperation Council and London.”
According to its leadership, the target market for the airline is any destination within five hours flying time from its hub in Kuwait. The airline’s CEO had much to say about route expansion:
“In the last 18 months we’ve launched seven routes into the Indian subcontinent…We are one of the largest airline operators into Egypt, with nonstop flights direct to six cities. And now, with the launch of the London service, Western Europe is also within our reach.”
In terms of “competition” for its new London route, Kuwait Airways and British Airways both fly direct between Kuwait and London (Heathrow) on their 777 and 747 aircraft (respectively).
However, numerous legacy carriers also fly to London via their respective hubs including:
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- and Turkish Airlines
Other new routes
By the end of this year, Jazeera will be launching six new routes.
- The first of these is the Kuwait to London Gatwick service, commencing later this year on an A320neo.
- Next are two new routes to Turkey: Bodrum and Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport.
- Finally, the airline will fly to Kathmandu in Nepal, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and Abu Dhabi’s Al Ain airport.
The CEO says that at least 30 more “routes of interest” are within its target five-hour range and would be active when new aircraft become available. Further into the future, the airline is looking at the following potential destinations:
- 10 additional cities in Saudi Arabia
- 10 additional cities in India
- Five additional cities in Pakistan
- Additional destinations in Iran
Just this year the budget airline increased its fleet size from seven to nine aircraft and by the end of 2019 it is expecting to have 14 aircraft. The airline will take another three in 2020 for a total of 17 in the next year and a half.
It seems that Jazeera Airways’ strategy in acquiring new aircraft has been all about patience and opportunism. Speaking with AIN, the airline’s CEO, Rohit Ramachandran said:
“…we’re being quite opportunistic in terms of picking up distressed aircraft units rather than placing one large order.”
Vice president of marketing and customer experience, Andrew Ward, also spoke with AIN and said that Jazeera leases its airplanes from several companies:
“We have been considering placing a major RFP to the two main aircraft manufacturers, but that is currently on hold as we are getting some fantastic deals in the market for leased aircraft… The market just happens to be quite buoyant at the moment for what we are looking for.”
The entire Jazeera Airways fleet consists of Airbus A320s in a two-class configuration.
Taking on the Middle East 3
In existence for 14 years now, the low-cost carrier flew two million passengers last year to just under 30 destinations. Jazeera is one of the airlines in the region that is not under government ownership and, according to its CEO, has been able to turn a profit for several years.
In fact, Jazeera was able to issue 7 million Kuwaiti Dinars ($23 million) in dividends last year which Ramachandran says is “not a bad amount for a small, seven-aircraft company.”
“The region is full of government-owned carriers with big, deep pockets and we are used to dealing with them.” -Rohit Ramachandran, CEO, Jazeera Airways
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