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Stock-exchange listing for Wataniya parent company

17th December 2008 - 17:42 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Kuwait National Airways (KNA), parent company of new premium-centric carrier Wataniya Airways, has listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange to open up public trading in its shares.

Wataniya is due to go operational at the beginning of February, offering premium services with a fleet of four Airbus A320s equipped with Thales IFE and the OnAir onboard cellphone system. If present timings hold good, Wataniya will be OnAir’s launch operator, just as Emirates of Dubai was the first to introduce the rival AeroMobile service. 

Established in 2005, KNA is also the majority shareholder in Royal Aviation Company Kuwait, which manages the new private air terminal at Kuwait International that Wataniya will use as its base. The existing 500 million shares in KNA – with a par value of 100 kuwaiti fils ($0.36) each – are currently held 30 per cent by a group of strategic investors and 70 per cent by smaller investors.

Wataniya’s first destination will be Dubai, to be served twice a day. “With its high volume of business and leisure travel, Dubai 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.

“Passengers will pay international roaming prices to use the OnAir 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 Shephard News Team


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