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Kuwait passes law to privatise airline

The Kuwaiti government has approved the privatisation of Kuwait Airways Corp (KAC)

The new president of KAC, Sami Al-Nasef, also announced that the airline would carry out a complete renewal of its aging fleet.

The Kuwait National Assembly voted 29-9 to privatise the airline, with six abstentions. Privatisation was mooted in 2008 and there have been several false starts, according to Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA.

The government will cover the airline?s heavy losses in recent years. Salem Ol-Othaina, Kuwait's communications minister, told lawmakers that over the past four years KAC has sustained losses of US$1bn.

The carrier has been left behind by other Gulf airlines and its competitor Jazeera Airways, while its elderly fleet consists of five Airbus A300-600s, three A310-300s, three A320-200s, four A340-300s and two Boeing 777-200s.

Al-Nasef said, ?Initially we plan to replace the current old fleet of 17 aircraft. We look to purchase 20 to 21 new aircraft within the next two years, and the process will be gradual.?

There would be a 50-50 split between small- and large-capacity types and KAC is already in discussions with manufacturers, he told AFP.