400 Kuwaitis agree to quit airline

Almost half of all locals working for Kuwait Airways have reportedly agreed to move to other gov’t jobs, on top of 1000 foreigners who will be made redundant as the airline prepares for privatisation.

Kuwait Airways

Kuwait Airways

Almost half of all Kuwaitis working for the national airline have agreed to resign or be transferred to other government jobs as the carrier prepares to be privatised, according to Arabic daily Al Seyassah.

Kuwait Airways also revealed exclusively to Arabian Business in April it is planning to retrench 1000 foreign workers on top of the 400-plus citizens who will leave the company.

The 870 locals employed by the carrier are believed to have had until June 1 to voluntarily agree to quit.

Kuwait Airways is undergoing a major restructure and upgrade as part of its plan to privatise after two decades of being burdened with old, inefficient aircraft, staff protectionism and a bloated workforce of 6000.

It has signed a deal to purchase 25 Airbus aircraft and lease 12 planes while it waits for the new ones to be delivered from 2019. Its present fleet is an average of 20 years old.

CEO Rasha Al Roumi, who was appointed in December, told Arabian Business in April she wanted to reduce the workforce even further.

“My target is 4500 but I can’t do that this year,” she said.

Al Roumi said it would take at least three years to make the airline profitable and therefore attractive to an investor.

Kuwait’s parliament first approved a plan to privatise the loss-making carrier in 2008 but the process has been repeatedly delayed.

Last year, the Kuwaiti government paid off KD441m ($1.55bn) worth of debt accrued by Kuwait Airways in preparation to sell the national carrier.

The debt had been accumulated since 2004.

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