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.