MPs demand probe into Kuwait Airways-Airbus deal

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Kuwaiti MPs have demanded a probe into a deal by state-owned carrier Kuwait Airways to buy 25 planes and lease 12 others from Airbus, claiming it lacked detail and was “suspicious”.

Kuwait Airways on Monday said it had signed the contract in the biggest overhaul of its fleet since the 1990 Iraqi invasion.

However, in Parliament Wednesday MPs demanded details of the deal, with some requesting a special session to debate the purchase while others wanted a parliamentary investigation, the Kuwait Times reported.

It comes just a month after Kuwait suspended the chairman of Kuwait Airways in a dispute over his plans to buy five used aircraft from India's Jet Airways.

MP Ali Al Omair said a number of MPs had signed a request to form a parliamentary committee to probe “suspicions” over the deal, including the way Kuwait Airways signed the memorandum of understanding with Airbus.

He said that there was suspicion that an Amiri decree must have been issued to appoint the board of directors to sign the deal.

Under the deal, KAC insisted that all the planes, including the leased ones, are brand new. Delivery of the leased aircraft is to start in the second quarter of 2014 with the purchased planes arriving from 2019.

However, the airline, which is undergoing privatisation, declined to reveal the value of the deal, citing confidentiality clauses in the MoU. A final contract is scheduled to be signed next month.

Last month Communications Minister Esa al Kandari sacked airline chairman Sami al Nisf after he announced plans to buy five used aircraft from Jet Airways, despite a request to stop the deal.

The airline had wanted to buy the used Airbus A330 planes, saying it would not affect the plan to buy the new Airbus jets.

The Kuwait Times said Rasha Al Roumi, a former top KAC executive, had been appointed the new chairman and managing director of Kuwait Airways.

However, Nisf has subsequently challenged his dismissal in court, with the first hearing set down for December 10.

MP Yacoub Al Sane said he had sent a large number of questions to the communications minister inquiring about the price, the types and conditions of the planes and whether KAC had obtained the necessary approvals from government bodies to sign the deal.

Sane also questioned whether any penalty clauses had been included and the way it will be financed.

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