Kuwait's Jazeera Airways is examining alternative partnership strategies to broaden its long-haul reach, having backed away from earlier exploration of a joint venture.
The carrier had previously discussed long-haul ventures with prospective partners.
But Jazeera chief executive Rohit Ramachandran, speaking to FlightGlobal in London, said the airline is pursuing other models following the development of longer-range single-aisle jets.
He says that the airline is "open to a different kind of partnership", and is holding discussions with "one or two carriers" at London Gatwick regarding a potential tie-up on transatlantic and other routes.
This would probably take the form of a loose pact – interline rather than codeshare – in order to provide passengers with a single transaction and a single ticket.
Ramachandran says the question as to whether low-cost long-haul carriers are viable is "fundamentally flawed" because the concept needs to be considered in the context of aircraft size.
"It's hard to imagine widebody low-cost is sustainable," he says. "The cost dynamics of widebodies are hard to maintain year-round."
Using long-range single-aisle types, he adds, eases the pressure because they have fewer seats to fill: "I'd rather share economy class with 150 than 400 passengers."
Jazeera is looking at modernising its own fleet and Ramachandran says the carrier has "begun a conversation" with Airbus regarding the "interesting" long-range versions of the Airbus A321neo – the A321LR and A321XLR.
He says such aircraft would open the possibility of routes to Southeast Asia, such as Bangkok which is 3,100nm from Kuwait.
But he points out that the airline still has "three years and 30 destinations" of organic growth available in its current fleet, which is set to increase to 16 A320- and A320neo-family aircraft next year.
Jazeera has opportunities to expand in Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Pakistan and the former Soviet states, he adds.