Dubai first port of call for Wataniya
New Kuwait-based carrier Wataniya Airways announces that its first destination will be Dubai, to be served twice a day beginning in February from Kuwait’s luxury Royal Terminal.
“The countdown has now started for providing Kuwaitis with a new travelling experience – one that will start in the superb surroundings of the Royal Terminal,” says airline chairman Abdul Salam Al Bahar. The Royal Terminal is one of the largest corporate/VIP aviation facilities in the world, offering hospitality services that include limousine pickup at any location in Kuwait, fast-track check-in and first-class lounges.
“Dubai, with its high volume of business and leisure travel, is an ideal first destination for us,” says chief executive George Cooper. “In the coming weeks we will announce further destinations to come on stream before the end of February.”
Wataniya’s four leased Airbus A320s will be fitted with 122 seats – compared with a European standard of about 145 – divided between first-class and premium economy cabins. Both cabins will be fitted with leather seats from Recaro of Germany.
Inflight entertainment will be provided by Thales’ TopSeries i-4000 AVOD system serving 10.6in screens in the 26 first-class seats. Also offered in every seat will be laptop power from Airbus KID-Systeme and ports allowing passengers to plug in their own iPods and other MP3 devices and play the content on the screen.
In the 96 premium economy seats Thales’ i-2000 broadcast system will deliver six channels of audio to each seat and video to overhead dropdown screens. The channel selector is the same as the unit designed for the Boeing 787; it will fly for the first time in the Wataniya A320s. There will be two power sockets for every three seats.
The aircraft will also be equipped for the OnAir mobile phone service. “Passengers will pay international roaming prices to use the service,” says Cooper. “We will start with text messaging and email to gauge passenger reaction before giving any thought to activating the voice capability. If we do add voice, we will require a capacity of 12 simultaneous calls.”
The timing of Wataniya’s service launch makes it likely that the carrier will be the first in the world to offer OnAir on a full commercial basis. Other airlines besides Wataniya that have been linked with OnAir – either as triallists or confirmed customers - are AirAsia, AirAsia X, Air France, the UK’s bmi, Jazeera Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Jordanian, Ryanair, Shenzhen Airlines of China, TAM of Brazil and TAP Portugal. Ryanair is expected to start a trial with at least ten aircraft soon, but is typically vague about whether this will lead to a long-term commitment, and none of the others has yet launched a full service.