Wataniya Airways failed to perform a tangible overhaul of its services or introduce immediate reforms to operations. Image Credit: Reuters

Manama: Kuwaiti aviation authorities have suspended the permit of Kuwait-based carrier Wataniya Airways for three months.

Minister of State for Housing Affairs and Minister of State for Services’ Affairs Dr Jenan Boushehri said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) took the 90-day suspension decision effective as of September 6 after the ultimatum that had been addressed to the company on August 25 had expired.

Wataniya Airways has neither made tangible overhaul of its services nor introduced immediate reforms to operations, thus negatively affecting the national aviation sector and Kuwait’s image abroad and undermining passengers’ interests, the minister said, Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported.

Boushehri said DGCA was keen on adhering to sound legal procedures toward the airline company, issued it notices and gave it more than one opportunity in the hope it would cooperate for the sake of air transport in Kuwait and the rights of passengers.

Wataniya launched its operations in January 2009 in the wake of the air service liberalisation in Kuwait, but suspended them two years later. It started up again in mid-2017 following a six-year hiatus after it shut down operations in 2011 citing financial and regional instability. However, it waded into problems and instead of increasing its fleet as expected, it reduced aircraft numbers and ultimately had to suspend operations “due to unexpected circumstances.”

In her statement, Boushehri said the Aviation Department would discuss with Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) its wish to take over Wataniya operations’ network, the minister said.

The minister expressed deep gratitude for “the extraordinary efforts exerted by the foreign ministry, and Kuwait’s embassies and consulates for helping passengers hit by the airline suspension to reschedule their bookings and for arranging their accommodation. She also lauded KAC for scheduling special flights to take the passengers back to Kuwait.

The aviation authorities on Tuesday said that, since August 26, they had to help more than 1,500 passengers whose flights on Wataniya Airways had been cancelled.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had urged the stranded passengers to call the diplomatic missions in Beirut, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Baku, Sarajevo, Malaga and Athens to help them resolve the problems resulting from the cancellation of their flights on Wataniya.