March 10, 2016 / 11:13 PM / 2 years ago

Timeline: Kuwait Airways' decline and restructuring

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait Airways’s overhaul may be management’s last chance to save it, as the slump in oil prices means the government cannot go on funding its losses for much longer, industry experts say.

Following is a chronology of events that led to the decline of the airline and of the subsequent attempts to restructure and privatize the carrier.

1953 – Launch of privately-owned Kuwait National Airways, which later became Kuwait Airways

1963 - Kuwait government buys 100 percent of airline

1987 – First proposal to privatize Kuwait Airways

1989 – International Air Transport Association, Boeing (BA.N) predict Middle Eastern airlines’ growth will be led by Kuwait Airways and others

1990 - Iraq invasion; most of Kuwait Airways fleet and parts stolen, hangars destroyed

1992 – Kuwait Airways participated in formation of Jet Airways, along with Gulf Air. Its 20 percent stake soon sold for $4 million after a ban on foreign airlines investing in India.

2003 – Kuwait Airways attempts to recover looted engines, parts from Iraq Airways and Baghdad.

2004 – Kuwait Airways turned into a corporation in a move towards privatization

2006 – Kuwait Airways suffers over $700 million in losses. Ministry of Planning agrees the airline should prepare a seven-year investment and operational plan, including a major overhaul of the aging fleet.

2007 – New CEO says the airline will find it difficult to progress, especially with fleet renewal, without privatization

2008 - National Assembly passes legislation authorizing the privatization of Kuwait Airways; single strategic investor can purchase 35 percent stake, 40 percent for Kuwaiti investors, 5 percent for workforce, government ownership 20 percent. New privatization deadline of February 2010.

2009 – Kuwait Airways president Fawaz Al Farah discusses airport expansion plans.

2013 – Kuwait Airways chairman Sami al Nisf suspended for plans to buy five used Airbus (AIR.PA) A330s from Jet Airways

2013 – Kuwait Airways receives $500 million from Iraq following $1.3 billion judgment against Iraq Airways and Iraqi state for damages incurred in the invasion of Kuwait. Airline resumes flights to Iraq after 17-year break

2014 – Rasha al-Roumi appointed chairwoman. Kuwait Airways orders 25 Airbus, 10 Boeing planes. Average age of its fleet at nearly 20 years. Receives new Airbus planes on lease - first new aircraft in almost two decades.

2015 – Airline receives leased Airbus aircraft, restructures routes; resumes flights to Munich, Vienna and Istanbul after 17-years of absence

- Kuwait government approves new structure for the privatization of Kuwait Airways; 75 per cent government ownership, 20 percent for citizens, 5 percent for employees

- Launches flights to Sharm el-Sheikh on Emir’s orders after Russian plane crash caused other airlines to suspend flights.

SOURCES: Kuwait Airways, media reports, Reuters

Reporting by Nadia Saleem; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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