Wataniya Airways has become the first high-profile casualty within the Middle Eastern airline industry following the recession and regional unrest, and its demise will serve as a timely reminder of the commercial pressures that carriers operating in the capacity-rich region are now facing.
The Kuwait-based airline has ceased all operations, and has now started “a process to determine the future of the company”.
The carrier has posted the following statement on its website:
"We would like to inform you that, starting March 16th, Wataniya Airways has ceased all its operations and will now enter a process to determine the future of the company. In the meantime, no flights will operate. Unfortunately, the company is not in a position to offer alternative flights to you. We regret that matters have reached this juncture and deeply apologize for the inconvenience it has caused.
“Our friends at Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways have thankfully offered to help bring back our stranded guests to Kuwait on their flights based on seat availability. All you need to do is approach Kuwait Airways or Jazeera Airways counter with a printed copy of your ticket for them to arrange your departure.
“You can also obtain the latest information about Wataniya Airways situation through our website wataniyaairways.com.”
Leaving aside the Middle East's current political and economic challenges, it raises question marks about the region's appetite for so-called premium economy services that Wataniya was offering, sandwiched between full-blown business class and bargain-basement budget travel, and whether carriers can post competitive fares and make money on busy routes, at times of rising oil prices.
Wataniya served destinations including Amman, Bahrain, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai and Jeddah, and had planned expansion into Europe with a codeshare agreement with Austrian Airlines on its Vienna route.
For more information visit wataniyairways.com.
Report by Mark Caswell and Dominic Ellis