Kuwait Airways appoints new CEO amid attempts to revive growth

Deputy chief executive Kamil Al Awadhi to lead airline from November

A picture taken on September 30, 2018, shows travellers checking-in at the new Terminal 4 of Kuwait International Airport, south of Kuwait City.  Kuwait Airways flights heading to neighbouring Gulf countries began taking off from the new terminal today. The itinerary includes between 26 to 34 daily trips to Gulf Cooperation (GCC) countries, the chairman of the company said.  / AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat
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Kuwait Airways promoted its deputy chief executive Kamil Al Awadhi to lead the airline as it seeks to compete in the Arabian Gulf's crowded aviation market following years of restructure.

Mr Al Awadhi, a 19-year veteran at the state-owned airline, will assume his new role on November 1, Kuwait Airways said on its official Twitter account on Sunday. He takes over from acting chief executive Abdullah Al Sharhan, who stepped into the position in April.

Mr Al Awadhi began working at the airline in September 1999 as an engineer with a supervising position in the quality control department, rising up the ranks to become deputy chief executive in 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.


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The executive faces a tall order as he takes the helm at the flag carrier, which has been trying for years to compete with regional aviation giants such as UAE's Emirates and Etihad Airways. Kuwait Airways wants to upgrade its fleet, attract high-end passengers, grow its share of regional traffic and return to profitability in a wide-ranging turnaround plan. Last month, it began operating out of its new terminal four at Kuwait International Airport, a hub dedicated to the airline with a capacity for 4.5 million passengers annually.

Kuwait Airways was once one of the premium carriers of the Arabian Gulf before the 1990 war wrecked most of its fleet.

Mr Al Awadhi faces the challenge of reviving the loss-making airline after years of restructure and attempts at privatising the company. It faced tough operating conditions, including a slump in oil prices that reduced spending power in the region.

As part of its revival plan, the carrier is focusing on lucrative routes and upgrading its fleet.

Last week, Kuwait Airways signed an agreement with European plane maker Airbus for an order of eight A330-800neo that will be delivered from 2019. Its fleet plan now includes five A350s, 10 Boeing 777s and 15 A320neo.

The company competes on short-haul flights with Kuwait's low-cost carriers Jazeera Airways and Wataniya Airways. Its longest route is to New York via Shannon, Ireland.