Kuwait Airways confirms order for 15 A320neos, 10 A350s

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Kuwait Airways has signed an initial agreement for 25 Airbus aircraft, state news agency KUNA reports, comprising 10 A350-900 XWBs and 15 A320neos.

The Kuwaiti flag carrier has secured five additional options for each type, chairman Sami Al-Nesif was quoted as saying at a press conference on 16 May.

It will further lease 22 aircraft as an interim solution, he added, with earlier media reports pointing to A330s and A320s.

Kuwait Airways has struggled to secure parliamentary backing for its fleet renewal in recent years. An earlier commitment for 12 Boeing 787s and seven A320s was scrapped in 2007.

Its existing fleet of five A300s, three A310s, three A320s, four A340s and two 777s was partially grounded last year after a spate of emergency landings.

The carrier has also been bogged down by recurrent failed privatisation efforts, plus a legal battle with Iraqi Airways over the theft of 10 aircraft during the First Gulf War. That dispute was settled late last year.

Signalling a new era for the beleaguered airline, communications minister Salem Al-Utheina said Kuwait Airways is committed to modernising its operations.

"The successful bid of Airbus for supplying Kuwait Airways Corporation with passenger planes, including leased ones, is the lowest in price and meets the technical specifications," he told state-owned KUNA.

A memorandum of understanding formalising the agreement will be signed with Airbus over the next two weeks, Al-Nesif is quoted as saying.

In September 2012, Kuwait Airways board member Adel Boresly told Flightglobal that the airline was considering leasing five or 10 aircraft during the next parliament, which was subsequently formed in December.

If the number of leased aircraft exceeded five, he said that would indicate immediate expansion of the route network.

In recent weeks, Marwan Boodai, chairman of Kuwait's Jazeera Airways, has repeatedly said that his airline would consider buying a stake in Kuwait Airways following its privatisation.