Exclusive: Kuwait Airways to cut 1,000 jobs this year

The new CEO of the gov’t-owned airline reveals plan to make the company profitable within 3 years

Kuwait Airways

Kuwait Airways

Government-owned Kuwait Airways will cut 1,000 jobs this year as it works to reduce significant losses and eventually return a profit, the carrier's new CEO has revealed to Arabian Business.

All of the retrenched employees will be foreigners and from “not very senior” positions, Rasha Al Roumi said.

The airline is presently assessing each department to identify positions it can cut and staff are expected to be informed within three to four months.

“This is what we are doing now... as quick as possible because we are rebuilding the company and from next September we want to start the company in good shape,” Al Roumi said.

The airline’s first female CEO, who took control in December, said eventually she would like to reduce staff numbers even further.

“My target is [to reduce headcount to] 4,500 but I can’t do that this year,” she said.

The airline is undergoing a major restructure after two decades of being burdened with old, inefficient aircraft, staff protectionism and a bloated workforce of 6,000.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with French aeroplane manufacturer Airbus to lease 12 aircraft from the end of the year, while it waits for an order of 25 new planes to be delivered from 2019.

Its present fleet includes planes that are more than 20 years old.

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.

Al Roumi said it would take at least three years to make it profitable.

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

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Posted by: What is this??????????

"The airline is undergoing a major restructure after two decades of being burdened with old, inefficient aircraft, staff protectionism and a bloated workforce of 6,000."

6000 of Staff to serve 15 Airplanes

Posted by: Asmaa

And hence they chose to do what other companies have on their minds for long. Good decision to boot expats! Expats need to be more independent and realize that no matter what they do, their services won't be rewarded for, their hard work and effort will always be more valued elsewhere, NOW with all these years of experience. Nothing should be taken for granted in life, not even our jobs, this is just a good reminder. Be so good that others feel sorry in letting you go. After all the expats are removed from their positions, I hope and will surely live to see how the Kuwaitis take the blame for their failing carrier. Yes, it will still fail, the majority of your customers are going to turn their backs on you KIA. Expats who are being replaced DO have kids and families who can take care of them, and will make sure they never end up in the same position. Thanks for the reminder!

Posted by: Karmi

Usually streamlining companies comes from improving efficiency. What should be done, to give all a level of comfort of the immediate change, is to reduce staff period. Limiting inefficiency to expats, is rather counter productive and gives no comfort. The KAC staff is Kuwaiti in majority, does that mean the expats are redundant ? and without them KAC would function better? I doubt. the first step of a cure is to be candid with oneself. In my view, ALL staff should be replaced, beginning with management who allowed this deterioration to occur.
after all this is my opinion.

Posted by: mumeen

All locals may be replaced; not expats. After all, the airline was profitable for past 40 years in its 60+ years of existance. The last 20+ years were unprofitable due to huge totally unproductive nationalization with huge facilities and giving the expats a really back seat without any authority. The expats should now be brought to the forefront with full authority, responsibility and recognition. And instead of part-time Consultancy, Kuwait Airways should let its expat executives make business policies and plans and implement them without interference, and you will then see Kuwait Airways successful in the shortest possible time as all sales/marketing, financial and operational infrastructures exist with some reputation for its past successes.

Posted by: Abu Ahmad

It is not only people or equipment!! Add to that processes and technology! It would be easier to build a new private airline in parallel to, gradually, fixing the national flag carrier! This is if the aim is to invest in the aviation industry!!

Posted by: Oldtimer

"All of the retrenched employees will be foreigners and from ?not very senior? positions, Rasha Al Roumi said."
In my 40+ years of experience in this region, it would probably have been more profitable and productive (since most of the real work is done by the lowly paid expats anyway) to have made redundant 10-20 unproductive local employees (with ridiculous salaries) to have achieved the same effect without adversely affecting the airline.
I know this might invite howls of indignant protests but this is the reality of this place!

Posted by: tfg

It would be more profitable and productive if we get rid of unproductive people who over stay 40+ years with detoriating mental and physical health.

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