Kuwaiti airline Jazeera Airways may soon place an order for 13 narrowbody jets, seizing potential opportunities from other carriers’ cancellations. While it has made no mention of any specific set of white tail aircraft, it is probable the airline would continue to order from Airbus as it looks to double its fleet.
Fleet expansion will depend on the price
While the country itself has suspended foreign arrivals indefinitely, that is not hindering Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways to look towards the future and fleet expansion. In a potential bid for a bargain following other carriers’ order cancellations, its Chairman told Reuters on Monday that the airline could be looking to order 13 narrowbody jets.
“We have put in place a five-year plan in which the number of our fleet aircraft will increase from 17 to 30 aircraft within five years ending in 2025,” the Kuwaiti carrier’s Chairman Marwan Boodai told the news outlet.
However, perhaps in a hint to manufacturers, he also said it would ‘depend on prices.’ Solutions could also include leasing of new aircraft rather than outright purchases.
Mr Boodai added that he hoped his airline could scoop up aircraft built for other carriers that had then cancelled the order or become bankrupt before they could take delivery. Such aircraft are commonly referred to as ‘white tail’.
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Airbus most likely recipient
While Mr Boodai did not specifically mention which manufacturer or types he had in mind, since Jazeera Airways operates an all-Airbus A320 family fleet, it is difficult to imagine the airline would look elsewhere. Even if the aircraft price was right, retraining pilots and reshuffling maintenance might still make a different brand less attractive.
On January 16th, the first privately-owned airline of the Middle East took delivery of its sixth A320neo. It is expecting a further three of the type to be delivered later this year. The carrier has thus far had success deploying the jets on its route to London.
August recovery could mean modest 2021 profit
The carrier owns and operates its own terminal at Kuwait International Airport – Terminal 5. Meanwhile, its Chairman says he expects the airline to remain unprofitable in the first half of 2021. However, it could potentially make a small full-year profit if recovery begins to pick up by August.
Jazeera Airways reported an annual net loss for 2020 of KD26.2 million (approximately $86.5 million). It carried only 696,093 passengers, compared to 2.4 million in 2019. However, the airline ended the year with a cash balance of KD19.7 million ($65.1 million). Its Chairman said in a statement seen by Simple Flying this was due to immediate action taken in March before the pandemic’s full extent was known.
Do you think Jazeera Airways will remain loyal to Airbus, or could we see the airline scoop up a different type? Which one and why? Tell us in the comments.