Kuwait's Jazeera Airways considering 13 jet order, chairman says

KUWAIT, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways is considering ordering 13 narrow-body jets, its chairman told Reuters on Monday, tempted by the possibility of picking up planes on discount from manufacturers seeking buyers following cancelled orders.

The budget carrier has long mulled an aircraft order to expand and replace its fleet of leased Airbus, but decided against going head with such a deal as recently as 2019.

“We have put in place a five-year plan in which the number of our fleet aircraft will increase from 17 to 30 aircraft within five years ending in 2025,” Chairman Marwan Boodai said.

He said the airline could pick up aircraft that were had been built for clients who later cancelled their orders or went bust, commonly known in the industry as white tails.

“It will depend on prices,” Boodai said, adding that it could also lease the new aircraft.

Previously, Jazeera had considered acquiring Airbus A320s and A220s, Boeing 737s and Embraer E2s.

The airline on Monday reported a full-year net loss of 26.4 million dinar ($87.3 million).

Boodai said Jazeera would remain unprofitable in the first six months of the year due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic which has devastated global travel demand.

However, the airline could make a small full-year profit, fuelled by a recovery it expects to begin in August, he said.

$1 = 0.3023 Kuwaiti dinars Writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Edmund Blair