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Wataniya Airways face ‘unexpected’ circumstances forcing suspension: Chairman

KUWAIT: Board Chairman of Wataniya Airways Ali Al-Fozan (right) attends the news conference. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Wataniya Airways said yesterday that ‘unexpected and unavoidable circumstances’ have disrupted its operations for the current travel season, forcing temporary suspension of operations. Wataniya Airways “is committed to complying with all decisions and regulations of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and is keen on offering its services at highest standards,” Ali Al-Fozan, Board Chairman of the privately-owned carrier, told a news conference.

Wataniya Airways was planning to have six airplanes as of August 12 “but the company unexpectedly faced a major problem, three planes of its fleet went out of service,” he explained. One of the planes, an Airbus 320, had a failure in one of its engines, and the company could not find a replacement in the market, said Fozan. He added Wataniya Airways hired two planes from Olympus Airways but DGCA refused to register the aircraft because “of the reputation of the (Olympus) company and there were some reservations over it.”

These factors, he added, slashed operations by 50 percent. Fozan further said Olympus Airways’ planes suffered repeated malfunctions which also disrupted operations of Wataniya Airways, which was very frustrated at the way Olympus dealt with the Kuwaiti carrier prompting termination of the contract. He said Wataniya Airways could not operate with one plane “so we decided to suspend operations temporarily until return of the second plane.”

“The Board is determined to take necessary measures to revive Wataniya in near future,” he said. Wataniya and DGCA, said Fozan, were discussing compensations for passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled. He underlined that the carrier’s financial position was good. Fozan apologized for all passengers and thanked the government of Kuwait for instructing Kuwait Airways to bring back citizens stranded abroad due to cancellation of their flights on Wataniya Airways.

DGCA addressed, on August 25, an ultimatum to Wataniya Airways to resolve problems such as recurring flights’ delay and cancellation. The DGC warned in a statement that in case the company failed to fulfill its duties properly, its permit would be suspended, effective September 6 for three months as an initial penalty, while compelling it to fulfill its financial and legal liabilities toward passengers. If Wataniya Airways fails again to tackle these problems, it will be stripped of the license permanently. Wataniya Airways resumed operations in July 2017, launching routes to the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia. – KUNA

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